Orange County case challenges legality of tiered water rates

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A lawsuit in an Orange County city could change the way customers California-wide pay for water.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the suit alleges San Juan Capistrano's tiered water-rate structure violates state law.

Under tiered systems, the more water a customer uses, the higher the rate. It's a strategy water districts employ to encourage conservation.

A group of residents argue the tiered structure violates a state law that prohibits agencies from charging customers more than the "cost of service" provided.

A lower court decided in their favor, and an appeals court is expected to rule soon.

The newspaper says at least two-thirds of California's providers, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, use some form of tiered rates.

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