A view of Lake Mead on Jan. 31, 2023. The largest reservoir on the Colorado River has reached dangerously low levels due to prolonged drought and overuse. / Photo by Joseph Griffin for Voice of San Diego
A view of Lake Mead on Jan. 31, 2023. / Photo by Joseph Griffin for Voice of San Diego

If you’ve been following this newsletter for any amount of time, you won’t want to miss this year’s Politifest. (Get your tickets here.

Politifest combines two things our newsroom loves: Politics and festivities. While we don’t feature the dunk tanks and petting zoos of the original inception of the event (much to the chagrin of our CEO Scott Lewis, and frankly, myself). But this year we’ll fill the halls of the University of San Diego on Saturday, Oct. 7 with some of the biggest players in western water politics.  

In two years, almost every major agreement currently keeping battle swords sheathed on the Colorado River will expire. Seven western states and Mexico will have to wrestle with the fact that there’s less water for their people and industries than before. And they have until 2026 to get new agreements to use much, much less water in place.

The Future of the Colorado River: We’ll have major players from Arizona, Nevada and California at our Saturday event to talk about how that’s all going. Hint: the Covid-19 pandemic and recent fights over temporary water cutbacks have already put river users behind. 

The Biggest Water Deal in California History: Just before that discussion, we’ll zero-in on the biggest water deal in California’s history between San Diego and the Imperial Valley. Farmers there gave up some of their Colorado River water so San Diego could grow into the sprawling urban metropolis it is today. In exchange, San Diego helps pay for water conservation on those farms. The deal sounds simple, but it took over a decade to negotiate and, oh, what a fierce fight that was!  

We’ll have water leaders from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the San Diego County Water Authority, the Imperial Irrigation District and an expert on the Salton Sea – the environmental sacrifice the farming region is still dealing with as a result of the conservation deal. Some of our speakers were there from the beginning. Come with questions. 

Cost of Water Smackdown: You may have heard that two small farming districts want out of San Diego to look for cheaper water elsewhere. And you may have heard that the city of San Diego recently was fighting to keep them in the Water Authority. A representative from each side of that issue has graciously agreed to have a lightning debate over the region’s growing cost of water – and what can be done about it.  

When the Sea Swallows San Diego’s Coasts, Where Will We Live? On Friday, Oct. 6 to kick off Politifest, we’ll have leaders from San Diego coastal cities talk about their struggle with slowly-rising sea levels either inundating streets and homes or crumbling the cliffs beneath them. The state of California is already talking about whether we’ll need to move away from the coastline. What can be done to stave-off the sea?  

How Can California Boost its Water Supply? And finally, our partner CalMatters is bringing us a statewide conversation on boosting the state’s water supply. Most of our water comes from two major sources: Snowpack runoff from the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada range. That meltwater makes major rivers that keep California alive. They’ll interview experts in their field on this important topic.  

There’s much, much more we’ll cover this year on our other very important topic: Housing.  

For a full list of events click here.   

My last pitch: Not many events, discussions and debates are led by impartial and investigative journalists like us at Voice of San Diego and CalMatters. You’ll hear answers to tough questions. And have the opportunity to ask your own. So come and learn with us. 

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