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Padre Dam sues Grossmont-Cuyamaca

In a Dec. 12 press release, the Padre Dam Municipal Water District announced it filed a lawsuit against the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District in California Superior Court San Diego to resolve a dispute over necessary water system upgrades on the Grossmont College campus and transferring ownership of the water system to Grossmont.

“Over the years, Grossmont failed to inform Padre Dam of development and expansion of campus facilities that ultimately put a strain on the water system. Furthermore, Grossmont pursued multiple construction projects without Padre Dam’s review, which built over existing water mains and infrastructure and caused access and maintenance challenges,” stated Padre Dam Communications Officer Melissa McChesney. “To resolve this matter, both parties entered into a Repair and Maintenance Agreement of Water System and Facilities in 2015. The Agreement aimed to transfer ownership of water facilities on the campus to Grossmont and outlined key provisions for the transfer. Unfortunately, Grossmont has refused to make the essential infrastructure improvements needed to operate its own water system and fulfill its obligations under the agreement. Furthermore, in 2022 Padre Dam discovered an unmetered, unauthorized connection on campus resulting in the illegal use of water which remains unpaid.”

Padre Dam Board of Directors President Bill Pommering said he is disappointed that this issue has come to the point of litigation.

“It is our sincere desire that through this process, we can still achieve a mutually agreeable resolution that serves the best interests of both Padre Dam customers and the Grossmont College community,” stated Pommering.

In 2019, the fire marshal informed Grossmont that it needed to either make upgrades to campus buildings by adding fire sprinkler systems or meet higher fire flow requirements. Grossmont has demanded that Padre Dam make these upgrades at the expense of ratepayers that are not served by these improvements. The cost of the needed improvements is estimated to be $15 million.

“Padre Dam cannot subsidize facilities which only serve the campus and unfairly overcharges other ratepayers in violation Article XIII D of the California Constitution (Proposition 218). It is Grossmont’s obligation to pay for water facilities which only serve its campus Padre Dam’s goal remains to achieve a resolution that ensures both safety and fairness in line with its shared commitment to the well-being of its customers, including the college community.”

In a statement from the college district, Interim Director of Public Information, Government and Community Relations Anne Krueger said Padre Dam had not served its lawsuit and specific allegations are not know at this time, and that the District was disappointed to learn that it was filed.

“We have been discussing several related water service issues with Padre Dam officials for more than a year in a good faith attempt to reach a global resolution. It is surprising that under such circumstances Padre Dam would accuse the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District of water ‘theft’ in an effort to distract from Padre Dam’s failure to provide a sufficient water infrastructure,” she stated. “Padre Dam is responsible for providing a safe and reliable water supply to all its customers. However, it has failed to do so for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, likely the largest water customer in the entire Padre Dam district. Over the past several decades, GCCCD purchased far greater water capacity, paying tens of millions of dollars, from Padre Dam than was ever provided. GCCCD has repeatedly offered to have this issue resolved through mediation to save taxpayers and ratepayers the expense of litigation. We hope the Padre Dam Municipal Water District will work together with us toward meeting the needs of our community.”

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