Farm workers at Jack Brothers, Inc. farm in Imperial Valley on Nov. 15, 2022.
Farm workers at Jack Brothers, Inc. farm in Imperial Valley on Nov. 15, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Some of the West’s most powerful water rights holders – Imperial Valley farmers – are saying they should be charged more for the Colorado River water that they use to irrigate a $2 billion agricultural empire. 

Imperial Valley farmers only pay $20 per acre foot for that river water. (San Diego farmers, for instance, pay sometimes over $1,000.) That’s a price subsidized by a trade made with San Diego years ago: river water for growing urban demand in exchange for money to pay for better water use on farms. 

But farmers say they’re not getting enough money from that deal to pay for the rising costs to conserve. And there’s another threat on the horizon.

While the Colorado River continues to shrink from over-use and climate change-driven drought, that water is in high demand and becoming increasingly political. The federal government is scrutinizing how efficiently the seven states and two nations are using river water. 

In a new story, our MacKenzie Elmer reports that some farmers want to pay more. 

Read the full story here. 

Politics Report: Monthly Count of Downtown Homeless Keeps Breaking Records 

A homeless encampment in downtown on Nov. 11, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The Downtown San Diego Partnership counted 1,706 homeless residents living downtown and surrounding areas last month. That’s the highest number recorded in the last 10 years — and the sixth time a new record high is set. 

It’s important to note that the count is a noisy data set, but as the authors of the Politics Report write, the overall trend is unmistakable: downtown homelessness is the worst it’s ever been, with no sign of improvement.

More on those numbers AND we have the winners of the Voice of San Diego Elections Contest in the latest Politics Report. The weekly newsletter is available to Voice members only. Become a member today. 

This Week on the VOSD Podcast

Last year, High Tech High educators decided they wanted to unionize (following suit with other local charter schools). But now they’ve hit a wall. 

Voice education reporter Jakob McWhinney joined the podcast this week to break down how the turmoil has affected the charter’s reputation and overall vibe. Pod hosts also get into news from SANDAG’s leader about his future with the agency. 

They also explain what’s going on with a debate about the city’s towing policy and a story of the mothers who were forced onto the streets because of it. Listen to the latest episode here. 

In Other News

  • In a new op-ed for Voice, local water district leaders Gary Arant and Kimberly Thorner argue that despite local conservation efforts and investments to water resources and infrastructure, the San Diego region is at risk and potentially subject to mandatory water supply cutbacks because of climate change and water supplies. 
  • The City Council is set to vote Tuesday on a proposed settlement with the county’s Air Pollution Control District to settle asbestos violation notices at a city fire training center and 101 Ash St.
  • San Diego’s ambulance provider plans to offer up $50,000 ($600 each paycheck over a three year period) in signing bonuses to new hires to address its paramedic staffing shortage. (Union-Tribune) 
  • NBC 7 San Diego produced an in-depth documentary about San Diego’s fentanyl epidemic, a crisis affecting San Diegans of all backgrounds.
  • Police began enforcing the city’s sidewalk vending ordinance on Friday with citations that could cost vendors hundreds of dollars. (KPBS, City News Service) 

The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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