Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS 89.5FM is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in a temporary signal outage. Click here to listen on our radio stream.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

25 Years Of Water Feuding In San Diego Explained

Photo caption:

Photo credit: San Diego County Water Authority

The San Diego County Water Authority has been upgrading its existing water storage facilities in an effort to decrease reliance on the Metropolitan Water Authority. This photo shows construction at the San Vicente Dam to remove the right crest of the dam to increase the size of the reservoir, November 2009.

25 Years Of Water Feuding In San Diego Explained


Tony Perry, freelance journalist

Midday Edition airs Monday - Friday at noon on KPBS Radio.

Subscribe to the podcast.

It all began 25 years ago.

California was suffering through the worst drought in memory. In fact, many considered the 1987-1992 drought as the most severe ever suffered by the state.

The San Diego County Water Authority, the supplier to the county's many water districts, thought it had to do something to ensure water supplies for the region. So it launched a few initiatives, none of which involved its major water wholesaler, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

San Diego began by opening negotiations with the Imperial Water District. It took awhile, but in 2003, when seven states signed an agreement to share the water from the Colorado River, a deal was reached allowing Imperial County to sell water to San Diego.

In San Diego's view, the MWD retaliated for questioning its ability to deliver water by unfairly hiking up wholesale water rates. The San Diego Water Authority filed a lawsuit and was victorious in a lower court, but the MWD appealed.

The MWD has raised San Diego's rates again based on the same formula declared unfair by the court.

San Diego continues to diversify its water sources. The water from the new desalination plant in Carlsbad was certified as potable this year. Coming soon: a new plant to recycle water.

Tony Perry covered water extensively in his years at the Los Angeles Times. He explains the back-and-forth between the two agencies on Midday Edition Friday.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.