California Supreme Court

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 – 04:15 p.m.

The California Supreme has denied a request to depublish a pivotal water rate ruling, by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which found that tiered water rates violate Proposition 218.

The denial means the case opinion, which was not appealed, may be cited as legal precedent in other litigation against other public water agencies.

Due to California’s drought conditions multiple public water agencies have moved to tiered water rate structures that punish higher-water users in an effort to generate more revenue and curtail consumption.

Not any more.

In the case Capistrano Taxpayers Association v. City of San Juan Capistrano, Case No. G048969, the court ruled in a published opinion that public water agencies cannot charge rates higher than the cost to produce and deliver water.

Wednesday’s decision will now open the door to litigation against other agencies in order to force the return to their non-tiered rate structures. Inland Empire water agencies, such as the East Valley Water District, serving Highland, have already put tiered rate structures into use.

That process will now have to be reversed and any overpayment refunded.