Morning Report: Who Owns the Tijuana River Water?

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Morning Report: Who Owns the Tijuana River Water?

The Tijuana River channel
The Tijuana River channel on the Tijuana side of the U.S.-Mexico border fills during a rainy day. / Photo by Leonardo Ortiz, TijuanaPress.com

The quality of the water crossing into San Diego from Tijuana during storms is, well, not the greatest. If it could be successfully recycled one day, that same polluted source would be valuable to a region like ours that’s prone to drought.

But who owns the Tijuana River and who needs its water the most are complex questions, because the area is ruled by international treaties. VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer and Vicente Calderón, a reporter for the Tijuana Press, wade into the options in a new story.

The International Boundary Water Commission says the water belongs to Mexico — but that’s only true for a portion that’s treated on the U.S. side. Mexico has no plans in place for its own recycling. The millions of gallons that trickle and drain naturally into California belong to California. Even then, the legal issues begin to pile up.

Part of the problem is that the United States doesn’t necessarily know which pollutants are in the water. A government or private company that wanted to treat it would also need to take on the liability should their strategy fail to pass water quality standards. 

In December, Tijuana emerged from six months of water rationing to protect from one of its main reservoirs from dropping too low. In the meantime, San Diego is spending billions to diversify its local water supply in an effort to wean itself off the Colorado River.

A Long and Isolated Goodbye

VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga often writes about health subjects, and about local history. But in a new essay, he combines those two subjects in a painful, beautiful way by recounting his own family history and his father’s recent death from COVID-19.

Like so many COVID-19 patients, Dotinga and his family dealt with the challenges of senior care, isolation and a long, drawn-out health battle with many complications leading up to the death.

Some people will say my father was old and sick and due for death. County Supervisor Jim Desmond, for instance, has claimed that most COVID-19 deaths aren’t ‘pure,’” Dotinga writes. “Yes, supervisor, Dad had a very important pre-existing condition: He was alive. And then, thanks to COVID-19, he wasn’t.”

Bottom Still Falling Out From Capitol Riot

On the podcast, Scott Lewis and Sara Libby take stock of San Diego’s congressional delegation and how they reacted to last week’s violent storming of the Capitol building. Lewis took things a step further in this week’s Politics Report and focused specifically on Rep. Darrell Issa’s actions before and after the deadly riot.

“Issa was trying to overturn the election. The president expressly wanted him to, and pressured many of his colleagues in the House and Senate to. As the latest videos and witness testimony from inside the mob make horrifically clear, had the marauders been able to locate the lawmakers or Vice President Mike Pence, they would have tried to murder them,” Lewis writes. “And after that happened, Issa indulged the conspiracy theory that drove the mad horde into the Capitol.”

The Washington Post, meanwhile, did an in-depth look at what drove Ocean Beach resident Ashli Babbitt, who was killed during the riot, to the Capitol that day.

Assemblyman Randy Voepel, who represents Santee, appeared to defend the violent insurrectionists to the Union-Tribune this weekend: “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny. Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear in on January 20th.”

Still More Evidence Black Residents Are Treated Differently

The California Racial and Identity Profiling Board released its fourth annual report last week. It’s a new report with familiar conclusions, showing that Black Californians have far more police encounters than their peers, and are more likely to be detained, searched and subjected to force.

The state has been compiling and releasing this data since 2016, thanks to a law written by San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. Both the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department were among the first wave of agencies required to report their stop data.

Over the years, police officials have argued that it’s wrong to compare arrests and other data points against general population demographics. Yet as Sara Libby points out: the new racial and identity profiling report notes that San Diego law enforcement use population estimates for their own benchmark comparisons.

Also in the Sacramento Report: Gov. Gavin Newsom released his budget proposal Friday. California is prioritizing its spending around the pandemic, as you might imagine, but there’s also money for investigations and audits to monitor compliance of AB 1747. The bill was written in response to a 2019 story by Maya Srikrishnan detailing the ways law enforcement was accessing state DMV databases to pursue deportations.

In Other News

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

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