UPDATE: Well owner, water district hearing continued

Water district

As San Martin well owner Steve Coney and the Santa Clara Valley
Water District predicted, their hearing before a small claims judge
Thursday morning was continued until February.
As San Martin well owner Steve Coney and the Santa Clara Valley Water District predicted, their hearing before a small claims judge Thursday morning was continued until February.

Superior Court Commissioner Gregory Saldivar said he wished to see how the appellate court rules in the $5 million lawsuit between Great Oaks Water Company in San Jose and the water district because the cases are similar.

Great Oaks and Coney believe the water district has been illegally charging well owners for water since Proposition 218 was made law in 1996.

Prop 218 requires either majority approval among affected property owners, or two-thirds approval from the electorate for any proposed tax or property related fee or increase.

The water district argues that Prop 218 is not applicable to groundwater charges because of unclear language in the law surrounding what is considered a “utility.”

On Thursday, Saldivar heard four cases brought by the water district against delinquent bills. Three of the four cases were ruled in the district’s favor, with the third being Coney’s continuance.

The district’s $2,700 claim against Coney for unpaid groundwater charges in 2008-2009 will be reviewed in February and Coney’s counter-claim against the district for allegedly illegally charging him for water will have to wait also. Water district spokesman Marty Grimes said the Great Oaks case could take much longer than until February to resolve, but he said that it is typical for a judge to revisit a case after six months.

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