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MWD suit dismissed at agency's request

August 28, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A Sacramento Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to validate the prices charged by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to move, or wheel, water owned by other agencies through MWD's system.

The dismissal came at the request of MWD, and was handed down by the court last month.

MWD General Counsel Roderick Walston said MWD moved for dismissal because the case was moot, in that MWD has rescinded the wheeling rates that were in effect at the time the lawsuit was filed. He added MWD is developing new wheeling rates that should be adopted early next year.

Until then, Walston said MWD is setting the price for moving water through its system on a case-by-case basis.

Locally, Imperial Irrigation District officials expressed cautious relief that the matter has come to a close.

IID board President Andy Horne said for the immediate term the IID will get out from under the costs associated with the lawsuit.


"It was quite expensive," he said, adding the district's costs in regard to the lawsuit were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It was reported at one point that IID had spent at least $700,000 on the issue.

Horne also said the withdrawal of the suit will have no practical effect on the pending transfer of water from IID to the San Diego County Water Authority because the authority and MWD have a multi-year agreement on what the costs will be to wheel that water.

IID Director Bruce Kuhn called the lawsuit's withdrawal "window dressing."

"(MWD) is trying to make themselves look good," he said.

Kuhn said he hopes the action by MWD is sincere, but wonders why the lawsuit was filed in the first place.

The court's ruling is for dismissal of the entire case "without prejudice," that is, MWD retains the right to sue again on the same cause of action.

MWD filed its wheeling rate validation lawsuit in early 1997. A failure to respond by IID or other agencies would have forced them to forever agree to MWD's rates.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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