/Morning Report: High Drama on the Colorado River

Morning Report: High Drama on the Colorado River

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

The Colorado River is both a source of economic productivity in the American West as well as the central commodity in a complex accounting system used by major farmers and entire states. That’s why officials often refer to it as a bank.

This month, the nation’s largest water agency, the Metropolitan Water District, began what amounts to a run on the bank.

Ry Rivard reports that the agency — which delivers water across Southern California, including to San Diego — started rapidly withdrawing water from the river, which is stored behind Hoover Dam in Lake Mead.

Metropolitan officials are worried that the federal government is about to step in to ration the river, which 40 million people depend on as it flows some 1,300 miles from its headwaters in Wyoming and Colorado to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

All this is happening because an ongoing drought along the river has collided with years of overuse by the states, primarily California and Arizona. Like people who borrow money to get out of debt, we’ve found ourselves in a world where there’s more water on paper than there is in the river.

Chris Ward Is Running for Assembly

The Democratic San Diego City Councilman, whose district includes downtown and much of the urban core, has opened a campaign committee for state office.

In 2016, Ward took the place of Todd Gloria, another openly gay progressive, while Gloria went to Sacramento. But with Gloria now running for mayor in 2020, Ward is eyeing the 78th Assembly District seat. It includes much of Ward’s current city district plus San Diego’s beach communities, Coronado and Imperial Beach.

Over on the podcast, Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts considered the goals and narratives of the mayoral candidates — including Gloria, Councilwoman Barbara Bry and possibly Rep. Scott Peters —  who are competing so far. Our hosts also unpacked a city ban on Styrofoam.

Welp, This KUSI-CNN Beef Happened

President Donald Trump amplified a claim by KUSI last week that CNN was playing politics when it requested the perspective of one of the local TV station’s reporters on the border wall debate.

The Associated Press reports that when KUSI didn’t get a call back, the news director concluded a CNN producer didn’t like the TV station’s position — that most border patrol agents say the barrier here works well. So local anchors blasted the cable network on air, catching the attention of the president. Conservative politicians and pundits also ran with KUSI’s claim as evidence of a biased national media, and several examples were gathered by the Washington Post.

But as CNN and other journalists pointed out, programming requests are made and dropped by media outlets every day for perfectly legitimate reasons.  

  • Back on Earth, the Union-Tribune explained some important facts about the U.S. border with Mexico. The paper also reports that immigrants who don’t have attorneys often don’t know that the courts are closed are during the partial government shutdown. Many are still showing up for hearings.

Politics Roundup

  • Members of the San Diego City Council expressed frustration that a six-acre housing development near a planned station on the Mid-Coast trolley line had been scaled down when neighbors raised hell. Council President Georgette Gomez said officials have a responsibility to pursue more density, not less, as the housing crisis unfolds.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget includes money for local governments to fund emergency homeless shelters and navigation centers. Sound familiar? Similar projects in San Diego contributed to a 40 percent surge in costs without any clear reductions in the number of homeless.
  • Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens considers the other new guy on the Board of Supervisors — Jim Desmond, a Republican, who’s gotten significantly less attention than his Democratic counterpart. Desmond wants to keep the county on strong financial footing but acknowledged the need to spend more on mental health services, especially after the closure of the Tri-City Medical Center behavioral health unit.
  • The U-T reports that Sen. Ben Hueso, chair of the state Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, was one of a dozen state lawmakers to join utility executives and other paid sponsors at a conference in Hawaii, where they debated policy away from the public.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.