Trial dates have been set for two lawsuits challenging rates set by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow has set Dec. 17 for the trial in two lawsuits brought by the San Diego County Water Authority.

SDCWA sued MWD in 2010 and again in 2012 alleging the water wholesaler had imposed illegal rates not based on the cost of providing the services.

“We are glad this is finally going to proceed,” said Bob Muir, an MWD spokesman, adding that MWD has been trying to get a trial date set for two years, but faced opposition from SDCWA.

Water authority officials claim it is MWD that has slowed the process.

Both sides have contended in court documents that the other party failed to provide sufficient discovery.

In recent court filings, MWD has stated it is exempt from the requirements of California statutes and the California Constitution requiring public agencies to tie the rates they charge to the actual cost of the services they provide.

Judge Karnow scheduled pre-trial hearings for Nov. 4 and Dec. 10 to determine the scope of the trial.

The Triple-A rated MWD, a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties, has $4.5 billion in outstanding revenue bond debt.

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