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Judge sides with San Diego board in dispute with Metropolitan Water District

Judge sides with San Diego board in dispute with Metropolitan Water District
To decrease its dependence on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority signed a purchase agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District. Now a judge has found that MWD overcharged San Diego for use of its aqueduct to bring that water to San Diego. (David McNew / Getty Images)

A judge Friday upheld his tentative ruling in favor of the San Diego County Water Authority in its bitter, multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow affirmed his July ruling that the MWD owes the San Diego district $188.3 million plus interest for overcharging it for water brought to San Diego under a purchase agreement with the Imperial Irrigation District.

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MWD plans to appeal.

The water deal with Imperial Irrigation District involves the San Diego County district purchasing some of Imperial's mammoth share of the Colorado River in order to decrease its dependence on MWD.

To transport the water, San Diego needed to use  the MWD's Colorado Aqueduct. The lawsuit involved San Diego's assertion that MWD overcharged for that service.

Karnow ruled that MWD was violating Proposition 26, passed by voters in 2010, that limited the amount the government can charge to the actual cost of the service being provided.

In a secondary issue, Karnow also agreed with San Diego that the MWD has under-calculated its "preferential rights" to buy water during a shortage.

Even as they declared victory, San Diego officials anticipated further disputes with the MWD.

"We will continue to need support from civic and business groups as we fight MWD's expected appeals and new strategies to overcharge this region," said Mark Weston, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority's board of directors.

Twitter: @LATsandiego

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