The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a powerful regional agency that provides water to 19 million people, paid nearly $88 million to exit interest-rate swap deals, and still has a $71.5 million liability on the books. Such payouts and the liability that remains show Metropolitan got the raw end of the deals and lost.

At very least, an appellate court ruling this week is a momentary setback for the San Diego County Water Authority at crucial time in California water policy and politics. The Water Authority has two major decisions to make by the end of the year and the ruling plays some part in each of them.

The San Diego County Water Authority paid for a poll last month that asked voters whether they would support the state seizing control of water supplies across the region, including much of the water used in San Diego. The $31,000 poll is part of an aggressive campaign the Water Authority is waging against another public water agency, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Last fall, months before San Diego Unified School District began testing all schools’ drinking water for lead, it did a special round of tests a Sunset View Elementary in Point Loma. The district found lead but didn’t tell parents. Rather, it told one parent – the one who’d requested a lead test.