A Drought Conversation with California’s Natural Resources Secretary

Days before the federal government shied-away from telling Western states how to curtail consumption of the drought-stressed Colorado River, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a plan to speed-up projects that would help California use less of it.

To be clear: California hasn’t yet taken any big cuts from its Colorado River allocation, despite being its largest user. But, as pressure mounts, it might, writes Ian James of the Los Angeles Times. Newsom’s plan doesn’t mention the Colorado River directly, but it’s conceivable this is an effort to prepare California for that reality – or at least prove the state is doing something.

Amid Drought, Tijuana Is Paying California for Colorado River Water

Tijuana is paying California for more water than it has in recent years as the city faces a growing population coupled with blistering drought that’s gripping the entire West.

Northern Baja is entitled by treaty to 1.5-million-acre feet of Colorado River water per year, which is Tijuana’s primary water source. But for years the amount that goes to Tijuana hasn’t been enough to quench demand.

Farmworkers Confront Losses, Anxiety Despite Demand for Food

The coronavirus brought much of San Diego — and the country — to a standstillResidents are isolating in their homes and working remotelyclassrooms are moving online, most beaches and parks are closed, and many businesses have temporarily shut down.  

City streets that once buzzed with people are going quiet in the wake of local leaders implementing policies that prohibit large gatherings. That makes grocery stores and other businesses that sell food items some of the only pieces of the economy that are going strong. 

But while it may seem as if business is boomingthe agricultural industry in San Diego — the farmworkers, farmers and food distributors — is experiencing the economic impact of the global pandemic as hard as anyone else as it quickly shifts to accommodate a changing marketplaceFood is in high demand, yet some of those in charge of providing those products are struggling to stay afloat. 


Some Local Agencies Are No Longer Responding to Public Records Requests

Most government agencies across the region are no longer providing records to the public as is typically required under a state law known as the California Public Records Act amid the coronavirus pandemic. Even requests for records related to the crisis that exist electronically are being largely denied indefinitely.

Operations at cities, school districts, special districts and county agencies have wound down or gone remote in compliance with public health orders to shelter at home as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus.

Border Report: Region Re-Ups Pleas for Federal Help With Border Sewage

San Diego officials are continuing to pressure the federal government to fix the border region’s sewage issues.

Last week, the cities of Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, Coronado and San Diego, as well as San Diego County, Port of San Diego, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California State Lands Commission, passed resolutions to recommend federal action on cross-border pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.

Tijuana is built into hillsides, where rainwater — or sewage when the wastewater system fails — naturally drains toward the U.S.-Mexico border and into the Pacific Ocean.

Environment Report: What to Watch as the City’s New Energy Agency Gets Off the Ground

Last week, the San Diego City Council took the big plunge and decided, in a 7-2 vote, to start buying and selling energy.

San Diego, along with several neighboring cities, will shortly form a “community choice” energy agency, or CCA. This is something I’ve written a lot about over the past two years, because it represents a major shift in who controls both literal and figurative power in the region.

Right now, energy decisions are made by a private company, San Diego Gas & Electric, which operates under the somewhat watchful eye of the California Public Utilities Commission and, of course, the shareholders of its parent company, Sempra Energy.

A Brief History Of Pure Water’s Pure Drama

After years of scientific progress, regulatory wrangling, political ups and downs, and searching for the money, San Diego is getting ready to get to work on a multi-part, multibillion-dollar project that will eventually provide a third of the city’s drinking water.

San Diego water officials have looked at turning sewage into drinking water for nearly 40 years. The first stab at recycling wastewater involved a series of ponds in Mission Valley that grew hyacinths, long-rooted plants that gobble up sewage and leave relatively clean water behind.

Another Day, Another Labor Wrench in City Plans

Just a few days after it was revealed that emergency state legislation is being prepared to save the city’s massive Pure Water project from being derailed over a fight over union-friendly agreements, it looks like similar labor fights could upend local cities’ plans to form a government-run energy utility.


New State Bill Would Require a PLA for Pure Water Project

To end a labor dispute that’s halted work on one of the largest and most important water projects in San Diego history, Assemblyman Todd Gloria rolled out a bill Friday to require union-friendly terms for work on the project.

The project, known as Pure Water, would provide a third of the city’s drinking water in coming decades. After years of starts and stops, the first $1.6 billion part of the project looked to be on track, until a labor dispute put everything on ice this summer.

Two Small Agencies Want A Divorce From The Water Authority. It Could Get Messy.

Back in January, the head of an obscure government agency that exists almost entirely to draw the boundary lines of other public agencies had gotten wind of something. Two rural water agencies wanted to bolt from the San Diego County Water Authority so they could start buying cheaper water from Riverside County.

Keene Simonds knew what was in store for his agency, the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees things like where a city’s limits end and where water districts can sell water.

This water thing, Simonds wrote in an email to a consultant, “could be a doozy.”

How much of a doozy is only now becoming clear.