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Report Says SDCWA’s Water Wars May Raise Rates

Aired 4/26/12 on KPBS News.

A controversial report officially released this week suggests efforts by San Diego’s Water Authority to gain water independence will cost the ratepayer dearly. Co- author, UCSD professor Steve Erie, says he had no idea the report was paid for by other water agencies in the powerful Metropolitan Water District.

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The Report for LA County EDC

The Report for LA County EDC

"The Cost of Water in San Diego: The ...

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MWD's Justification Of Water Report

MWD's Justification Of Water Report

MWD's response to an economic study about San ...

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SDCWA Response to the Report

SDCWA Response to the Report

San Diego County Water Authority's letter to the ...

A controversial report officially released this week suggests efforts by San Diego’s Water Authority to gain water independence will cost the ratepayer dearly. Co- author, UCSD professor Steve Erie, says he had no idea the report was paid for by other water agencies in the powerful Metropolitan Water District.

The Metropolitan Water District, MWD, is the powerful water agency that supplies 90 per cent of San Diego’s water.

UCSD’s Steve Erie said he co-wrote the report about what is driving up water costs in San Diego for LA’s Economic Development Corporation.

He said his analysis shows San Diego’s investment in Imperial Valley water, independent emergency water storage and conservation will result in more expensive water than MWD could provide.

“What price independence? “ Erie asked.

He said he was surprised to find how much local decisions have affected and will affect the rising cost of water in San Diego.

“Looking at 2012 and going forward,” he said, “ MWD is less and less of a cost driver, as we pay the true cost of independence.”

Between 2003 and 2010, the report suggests, water from Imperial Valley cost San Diego $140 million more than water it could have bought from MWD.

According to Erie, the proposed desalination plant in Carlsbad is another example of costly water, if it is approved.

Erie wrote a book about the history of the MWD, published in 2006: “Beyond Chinatown.” Although he did consult for MWD, he says he was not paid by MWD to write the book.

San Diego County Water Authority, CWA, has accused MWD member agencies of spending $50,000 to fund the report in an effort to discredit San Diego.

They argue San Diego is getting a raw deal on water from MWD, and that spending more on water independence is a wise investment.

San Diego’s CWA has sued MWD over what it argues are unfair water charges that result in San Diego subsidizing water rates in other cities around Southern California.

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