Chapter 14: Water managers are selfish like us
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The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MET) is a public cooperative with 26 member agencies that resell MET water to over 18 million people – making MET the largest water utility in the United States by population served and volume of treated water sold (Thomas, 2007). Most of MET’s water comes from the Colorado River via the Colorado River Aqueduct (CRA) and Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta via the California Aqueduct of the State Water Project; see Figure 14.1 for the physical location of MET and these sources. For most of its member agencies, MET is the sole supplier of imported water. My interest in MET began with a story of rent-seeking inside the organization. In 1995, one of MET’s member agencies – the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) – tried to circumvent MET’s self-declared monopoly on imported water by purchasing water from the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), an agency outside MET’s service area that was already selling water to MET under a 1988 deal. Since SDCWA had no pipeline to IID, it wanted to use MET’s CRA to wheel (move) the water from IID.

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