At CESPE main water desalination plant, where a representative passes along a mural that reads “With the desalination and inverse flow we have water for Ensenadenses.” / Photo by Carlos A. Moreno for Voice of San Diego
At CESPE main water desalination plant, where a representative passes along a mural that reads “With the desalination and inverse flow we have water for Ensenadenses.” / Photo by Carlos A. Moreno for Voice of San Diego

Ensenada is at the end of the line for water from the Colorado River and now there’s not enough of it for the seaside town in Baja California.

MacKenzie Elmer and Vicente Calderón visited the city this summer, where water shortages have provoked protests and demands for change. One Ensenada resident, Lucero Perez Badillo, told them in July it had been nearly three months since her home had water service – and the water she received that day came from a desalination plant, delivered by truck and dumped into a rooftop storage tank.

Even that stopgap solution doesn’t provide enough water for Perez Badillo and her two kids, so she spends another $200 a month for extra water.

Historically, Ensenada relied on the groundwater aquifers. As the population has grown and agriculture sucked up much of that water, those aquifers now account for just 25 percent of the city’s water needs. The desalination plant built in 2018 is supposed to provide another 40 percent of Ensenada’s water, but it hasn’t fulfilled that promise. The rest comes from the drought-stricken Colorado River.

Ensenada probably doesn’t get its full share of river water though, because the poorly maintained pipe that sends the water south from Mexicali is old and leaky.

Read more about the severe water shortages in Ensenada here.

Ensenada is not alone: The Washington Post on Tuesday filed its own dispatch on the severe drought facing northern Mexico, specifically Monterrey, where taps and reservoirs are running dry, water bills are skyrocketing and the federal government has declared a national emergency.

“As demand has grown, researchers say a lack of rain and, especially, water mismanagement have led to one of the worst droughts in the northern half of the country,” the Post reported. “As populations continue to increase and temperatures keep rising, speeding up evaporation from the land surface, water problems will worsen without better adaptation.”

The city recently moved forward with a major legal settlement tied to its years-long 101 Ash St. debacle in a bid to avoid years of uncertainty over its downtown real estate.

But the legal drama surrounding 101 Ash, which the city hurried to evacuate in early 2020 after a series of asbestos violations, is far from over. 

Our Lisa Halverstadt put together a guide to the legal cases that remain on the city’s docket and what to watch out for next. The battles that remain are tied to building renovations that went awry, a former real estate adviser and the city’s now-former Ash lease.

And as Halverstadt writes, two Superior Court judges are poised to make some significant decisions on the future of a couple of those cases in the next two months. 

Read more here.

In other 101 Ash news… Mayor Todd Gloria talked to our Lisa Halverstadt about former city Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell’s bombshell testimony under oath and revealed that she implied she wanted to remain in her city role before abruptly resigning in fall 2020. (Note: This post previously appeared in our Politics Report.)

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Scott Lewis.

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