SAN FRANCISCO - The San Diego County Water Authority, California's third-largest urban water wholesaler, plans to sell $580 million of certificates of participation as soon as tomorrow to pay for the canals, tunnels, and dams that the growing region needs to compete in the arid Southwest's water wars.

The deal will fund $516.5 million of capital projects and refinance up to $63.2 million of COPs issued in 1997. The authority, which serves three million residents, is in the midst of one of the nation's biggest local water capital improvement plans, with $1.3 billion of spending planned over the next five years and $3.9 billion over the next 30 years.

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