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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

GUEST:

Tony Perry, freelance journalist

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

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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.

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