Making drinking water from ocean water isn’t just going to be an option here, it’s going to be a necessity, according to the magazine Good. A new government report on the scarcity of water in the West “paints a frightening picture of an already arid region … undergoing a long, painful desertification.”

The piece includes a nice visualization of desalination and riffs on Rob Davis’ story from earlier this week on local plans to put a desalination plant in Baja California, following the lead of maquiladoras and power providers.

New Mexican journalist John Fleck also chimed in, comparing the amount of water the desal plant would bring to the drops at one of our major reservoirs.

He says, “What struck me about this project, as Rob describes it, is how small it really is. 50 million gallons per day is about 56,000 acre feet per year. The average Lake Mead shortfall during the ’00s was 1.2 million acre feet per year. That’s the supply-demand imbalance we’re talking about. That would mean 20-plus desal plants just to close the current gap.”

There’s another wrinkle, too. While there are worries about the abuse of more lax environmental standards in Mexico, attorney Marco Gonzalez points out in Davis’ follow-up that building plants there could actually be more environmentally sound than those in the works here.

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Battle of the Big Shots

It’s still a ways away, but the 2012 mayoral race in San Diego is already shaping up to be a big-time battle between big-time names. In the latest episode of VOSD Radio, Scott Lewis and I discuss the race that’s shaping up and how District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ decision to oppose Mayor Jerry Sanders’ signature pension initiative really threw a wrench into the whole field. She was, after all, the odds-on favorite for his endorsement.

Low-Priced ‘Whackage’

With the latest release of housing price numbers, our econ analyst Rich Toscano finds it interesting that the lowest-priced homes dropped as much as they did. That tier’s previous increase, he says, was more statistical noise than any real strength. “Whackage,” by the way, is wonk-slang meaning “one or more declines or drops.”

Return of the Pelicans

This might be actual real strength, not just perceived: The local pelican population appears to be coming back with abandon. Experts caution about looking too much into one big bump, but larger-than-ever groups of the birds are being spotted across San Diego after the brown pelican spent nearly four straight decades as an endangered species.

“The numbers are incredible,” says a longtime lifeguard. “Literally thousands and thousands of pelicans are off our coast right now. It’s unprecedented.” (Union-Tribune)

What the Mayor Said

The U-T earlier this week didn’t like that its reporter got the boot from private meeting over the Chargers between Mayor Jerry Sanders and business bigwigs, saying in its lead that “About 30 San Diego business leaders now know more about the Chargers stadium search than you do.”

San Diego CityBeat got a copy of Sanders’ talking points for the meeting, and as the Morning Report wondered yesterday and our political reporter reiterated after seeing the CityBeat story, it doesn’t appear the bigwigs found out much more than what was already known. The main issue of note: the mayor planned to take some time to diss the Los Angeles stadium proposal.

Land Blubber

The mayor has made news recently for his impressive weight loss. But apparently not enough Americans are following his lead. The Los Angeles Times says the Coast Guard has increased the weight of the average passenger by 25 pounds, altering the max capacity on ships.

The change will be hard on companies such as San Diego’s Ashes on the Seas, which conducts ocean burials. “Anticipating less usable space on many of the 50 boats he charters in five states, owner Ken Shortridge said the change could add several hundred dollars to the cost of each service. ‘Unfortunately, the new rule makes sense,’ he said, pointing out that overloaded boats are more likely to capsize.”

Lincoln High’s ‘Building Expectations’

If you’ve got a spare half hour and dig education, our Emily Alpert says you should check out KPBS’ documentary on Lincoln High school, “Building Expectations.” Three and a half years ago, the school was totally rebuilt on the hopes of spurring an education renaissance in southeastern San Diego.

“The basic question that the documentary hits on,” she writes, “is how much schools can help when kids are living in poverty.”

The U-T as a profile of the school’s departing executive principal.

Maybe It’s Within Reach After All

Last year, our Out of Reach investigation documented the county of San Diego’s poor track record in providing social services to its neediest residents and the human impacts of those decisions. The county blames the state, saying it’s stuck it with without the money to handle mandated programs.

In a new study, UCSD doctoral student Vlad Kogan and the left-leaning Center on Policy Initiatives wanted to find out what made San Diego different considering the rest of California’s counties were operating in the same political and economic environment.

[W]e found that San Diego simply has far less money to spend and chooses to spend less of what it has. Overall, our county raises almost 25 percent less in revenue than its peers, and yet ends the year with a much larger unspent balance.

The low revenue receipts are not the fault of state government. In total, state and federal grants represent nearly 60 percent of the county’s revenue, making San Diego the most dependent on handouts from higher levels of government among major California counties, with the exception of Fresno. What explains our region’s relative poverty is how we’ve responded to challenging fiscal times over the past several decades. Even as other counties have found new and innovative ways to raise revenue to deliver the services their constituents need, San Diego County continues to collect less than average in all types of revenue.

Chargers Showing Up for Work

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and seven of his peers showed up for work yesterday. That otherwise usually isn’t big news, but the NFL had refused to allow players to report for duty in a labor dispute that threatened the 2011 season.

A judge this week ended the lockout, ruling in favor of the players. The teams wouldn’t allow players to work out because the situation is still in limbo. So what did Rivers do? The U-T says he was talking.

And, since jawing is one of the more recognizable parts of his game, I consider preseason training to be officially underway.

You can reach me at or 619.325.0526. Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.

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