A view of the Colorado River as it flows through northern Arizona. / Image via Shutterstock

A funny thing happened on the San Diego County Water Authority’s way to finalizing a plan to hike the cost of water that it sells to smaller water districts across the county: the city of San Diego, its largest customer, objected, and a bunch of smaller water agencies all rallied to the behemoth’s side.

The city, with support from smaller agencies like the city of Oceanside, the Olivenhain Municipal Water District and the Helix Water District, added requirements that the water authority spell out how much cash it’s raising from ratepayers, and conduct third-party audits of the math it uses in support of any increase.

What do all those districts have in common? They’re all building their own projects that recycle used water, clean it, and return it to the water system for re-use.

As you might imagine, individual districts re-using water they’ve purchased from the water authority then need to purchase less water from the water authority. One district that opposed the city of San Diego’s move? Poway, which gets 98 percent of its water from the Colorado River, after buying it from the water authority.

Click here to read the rest of the developing divide in this week’s Environment Report.

Virtual Event: Bringing Equity to the Cannabis Industry

Acknowledging that the War on Drugs was misguided and disproportionately impacted communities of color was among the most significant arguments marshalled in support of cannabis legalization during the 2016 election.

Yet two years later, when cities and counties across the state began implementing voters’ will and began setting up legal sales, distribution, manufacturing and cultivation of cannabis, many of the communities who were criminalized by the War on Drugs weren’t included.

San Diego, like many places, is now playing catch up, as the county and cities here debate what a social equity program for the industry could look like.

As part of that discussion, we’re hosting a virtual panel discussion TONIGHT, at 5:30 p.m. It’ll be hosted by local cannabis journalist Jackie Bryant, and panelists include Anthony and Loriel Alegrete, founders of an advocacy group for people incarcerated for cannabis; County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Andrea St. Julian, a criminal justice advocate; and Violeta Wyrick, an executive with Catalyst Cannabis Co.

You can register to attend for free on Eventbrite, or access the event directly on YouTube.

In case you missed it: Last week Bryant wrote a story about the nascent local efforts to bring equity to the cannabis industry. Click here to read that story.

San Diego’s Actually Doing Pretty Well on the Vaccine Front

South Bay’s Latino community suffered alarming rates of coronavirus infections. But efforts to reach Latino communities through promotoras, advertising and pop-up clinics have been successful, and now Latinos in the county are over-represented among fully vaccinated people compared to most racial or ethnic groups, the U-T reports.

Speaking of vaccination rates: We received a reader question asking why San Diego County’s vaccine rates were so low, especially among the elderly.

Why is the COVID-19 vaccination rate in San Diego County so much lower than the average for California? The differential is particularly stark for the elderly. The county votes liberal! What in the bejeezus is going on?

The thing is that San Diego County actually has a higher vaccination rate overall than the state. According to the most recent data published by both, 70 percent of eligible people statewide are fully vaccinated while roughly 78 percent of eligible people countywide are fully vaccinated.

When it comes to older residents, San Diego is still leading the state, though the county’s dashboard can be a bit confusing on this point. The dashboard shows what percentage each age group makes up of the total vaccinated population. That shows that 27.7 percent of the vaccinated population are people 60 and older. But that’s a different number than looking at the percentage of elderly residents who are vaccinated.

The county has other data available that breaks down what percentage of the 65 and older population has been fully and partially vaccinated. As of Sept. 22, nearly 89 percent of San Diego residents 65 and older have been vaccinated. Statewide, about 73 percent of that age group is fully vaccinated.

Here’s a hot data tip: Every Wednesday the county updates a series of more detailed reports on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccination rates that breakdown that information by ZIP code, race and ethnicity, age and more. You can find that here.

Need Help Understanding Local Government? We Got You

Get ready for a new Voice of San Diego podcast premiering next month! The San Diego 101 podcast, hosted by Adriana Heldiz and Maya Srikrishnan, will break down some of the region’s biggest issues and the agencies, people and systems that shape San Diego County. 

Listen to the trailer here and subscribe to the VOSD Podcast on your favorite podcast platform to get ready for the first episode to drop.

In the meantime, you can check out our San Diego 101 video series

In Other News

  • Cyclists keep dying on San Diego’s streets, and while the city of San Diego is beginning to display a sense of urgency around the long-delayed projects meant to protect them, they’re coming too late for the surviving family members of those victims. (KPBS)
  • In a new op-ed, Nam Nguyen and jean-huy tran of the organization Viet Vote argue that City Heights, including Little Saigon, must remain united in one city council district in this round of redistricting.
  • Some students have been attending San Marcos Unified School District classes in-person who have tested positive or had symptoms of COVID-19. It’s less than 1 percent of the student body, but drives home how difficult it is for districts to track cases. (Union-Tribune)
  • Lime scooters are back. After temporarily pulling out of San Diego in January 2020, Lime announced it will re-enter the market with 500 scooters and a plan to scale up to 2,000 within weeks. (Times of San Diego)
  • A new memo says City Attorney Mara Elliot declined invitations to participate in an audit that criticized how city officials handled a series of real estate transactions in recent years and then criticized the auditor for not interviewing her before issuing the report. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego County officials gave an $83 million pay raise to a contractor that has been under scrutiny for its mismanagement of a COVID-19 quarantine hotel program. (inewsource)

Correction: The percentages of people vaccinated originally reported in this post should have clarified they are percentages of “eligible” people. Kids under 12 are not yet eligible.

This Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Megan Wood.

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