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Water supply in Colorado River shrinking

 December 20, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, December 20th.

Climate change is shrinking the water supply in the Colorado River.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


Online voting is underway on a tentative agreement between the University of California and 36-thousand striking academic workers.

It includes a pay raise over 50 percent in the next two and a half years …protocols for dealing with harassment and bullying by tenured professors…and protections for international students.

But not all of the rank-and-file union members support the agreement.

Some say the deal does not provide pay raises equivalent to the student researchers…or address the need for childcare and affordable housing.

Voting continues until Friday.


The San Diego Blood Bank put out an urgent call for blood donations because the local supply has dropped dangerously' low.

To be eligible to donate blood you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 114 pounds, and be in general good health.

The San-Diego-Blood-Bank- can arrange for a donation.


New eviction cases are on the rise in San Diego County.

Preliminary court filings for eviction proceedings reached a five-year high in October.

The San Diego County Superior Court reports more than 1 thousand new cases were filed that month.

Most of those filings were for tenants who owed less than 25-thousand-dollars.

Housing experts say causes could … include the expiration of the City of San Diego’s no-fault eviction moratorium, and a tight housing market driving rent prices up.

Some cities in the county are currently working on strengthening protections from no-fault evictions.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


The Colorado River is in crisis.

40-million people depend on its water, and the supply is shrinking due to climate change.

Policymakers met in Las Vegas last week to discuss cutting back demand, but didn’t emerge with any new commitments.

K-U-N-C’s Alex Hager was there.

There’s no shortage of tension in the Colorado River basin. The cities and farms that rely on the river’s water NEED to start using LESS. And those who decide how it gets divvied up are caught in a standoff. In a Las Vegas casino conference center, that all went down in person. "John Entsminger: there's no substitute for, you know, being face to face. You know, it's it's a lot easier to, you know, talk a little smack, call some people, some names, you know, when when you're, you know, not looking them in the eye." That’s John Entsminger, head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Here at Caesars Palace... people from Wyoming to Mexico are gathered to get a sense of the river’s future. And the word on everyone’s lips is COLLABORATION. Colorado’s head river negotiator,Becky Mitchell, says there needs to be a collective SOLUTION to this collective problem. "Becky Mitchell: I think there is some heavy optimism that hopefully everyone will come to something that we can all agree on. But it is going to take, I mean, real cuts to everyone." Agreement is easier said than done. Mitchell herself placed the blame downstream.. States along the river’s top half… Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico… say their water supply is at the whims of rain and snow… while the LOWER half can rely on steady, legally-required deliveries every year. So… Mitchell says those lower states should be the first to make cutbacks. "Becky Mitchell: We all have to be able to sell this. And it is really hard to sell something when there are winners and losers." Meanwhile, the Lower Basin has its OWN big water demands in cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles… but also sprawling fields of crops. About 80% of the country’s wintertime vegetables come from farms in the lower basin. Water managers say the next few weeks will be critical… they’re trying to add their two cents before the federal government makes some potential changes to the river’s current rulebook. Bill Hasencamp is with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. "Bill Hasencamp: we really are focusing on this 45 days. And then if we're not successful, then you can ask me where we're headed then, because that's something I don't even want to think about right now." But water managers WILL have to think about it. And SOON. Elizabeth Koebele is a political science professor at the University of Nevada-Reno. "Elizabeth Koebele: We're dealing with trying to respond to crisis while also thinking about long term sustainability planning for the basin. And to me, that is creating so many challenges." Koebele says there isn’t much new clarity on where necessary cutbacks to water use will come from. "Elizabeth Koebele: Even though we agree, yeah, this is a problem and we need to do something about it and it's not getting better. We haven't yet agreed on who's really responsible for doing any of that yet." A longer term plan… could come by 2026, when the current rules for managing the river are set to expire. And while that process is just beginning, groups historically excluded from river management want their voices to be heard. Chapoose we want to have true and meaningful consultation. We want to really have nation to nation, but it really doesn't exist. Shaun Chapoose is chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe on the Uintah and Ouray reservation. He and many of the 30 other tribes in the basin say they want more out of states that promise them a seat at the table. Chapoose It sounds good in rooms, but what happens on the ground? And for a person like me who's actually in that rumble… I always tell people, yeah, you're you're you're seeing a narrative that's not factual. And while that negotiating table is being set, the river itself is only getting drier, putting the pressure on everyone who relies on its water to adapt.  In Las Vegas, I’m Alex Hager" 

This story is part of ongoing coverage of the Colorado River, produced by K-U-N-C, and supported by the Walton Family Foundation.


A major San Diego nonprofit has been hit with a lawsuit alleging racism and gender discrimination.

KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen has more.

AB: The San Diego Workforce Partnership is a quasi-governmental nonprofit that administers workforce training and job placement programs. Tabatha Gaines is a former HR employee who is Black. She says in her lawsuit she tried to flag potential discrimination taking place at the agency. She says CEO Peter Callstrom retaliated with quote "relentless micro-management," taking away certain job duties and giving her no choice but to resign, which she did last June. The Workforce Partnership told KPBS it is aware of the complaint but cannot comment on its claims. Andrew Bowen, KPBS news.


There’s a current shortage of middle and low-income homes in San Diego.

But the city's housing policies still earned its recognition from the state.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere explains why San Diego was named a Prohousing City.

The prohousing designation is awarded to some California cities … that have policies and practices to help remove barriers for housing production.San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says the designation gives San Diego an edge when applying for housing, transportation and infrastructure programs from the state. “It opens the door to state funding that we otherwise would not be able to have access to. So I believe this will give the dollars that will help us to address the infrastructure needs that this new housing requires. And this is really just a good day for our housing policies and encouragement to other cities to follow our lead.” But the city is still well behind in building low and middle income housing units… and homelessness continues to increase.Ricardo Flores is executive director of LISC San Diego. The nonprofit advocates for increased housing. Flores says San Diego’s designation doesn’t line up with the realities many are facing. “A lot of folks out there do not feel that San Diego is prohousing because rents are high or they can't find another place to live. Or they may be a family that wants to be homeowners so they have that certainty of a mortgage, but they can not find a home at their price point.” Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Coming up.... We revisit one of our favorite stories from 20-22, sit in on an S-D-S-U class all about the late singer Selena. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.


The V-A medical center officially has a new name.. honoring Army Captain Jennifer Moreno.

She grew up in Logan Heights and graduated from San Diego High School before becoming a nurse in the army.

Moreno was killed in Afghanistan in 20-13 while helping wounded soldiers during a raid.

V-A Chief of staff Tanya Bradsher says Moreno’s legacy lives on.

“Jenny cared about people and that’s why it’s so fitting that this medical center bears her name -- because jenny represents everything we want to be here at the VA.”

Earlier this year president Biden signed a law to change the name.

This is the first V-A facility in the country to bear the name of a female Latina veteran.


A San Diego non-profit that helps teenage girls of color explore their heritage with the use of drones, has taken the program to Africa.

KPBS reporter Claire Strong has the story.

15 teenage girls from Ghana are set to become fully fledged drone pilots, as part of a new initiative by San Diego-based, Our Genetic Legacy. They’ll be using their new expertize to help trace the Transatlantic slave trade between the UK, Africa and US.In addition to discovering more about their own heritage, founder, Shellie Baxter, hopes it will lead to life changing career opportunities for the girls. "It's really exciting to be able to provide this opportunity to empower the girls in who they are culturally and to also give them the skills and resources to become high wage earners" Once captured, the drone images will be used in the first black, indigenous, people of color digital museum. Claire Strong, KPBS.


27 years after the death of Tejano singer Selena Perez, her legacy has lived on through music.

Earlier this year KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez took us to a class at S-D-S-U to tell us more about how Selena has impacted some very diverse younger generations.

‘Como La Fleur’ “I heard a song on the radio and I really fell in love with the song Como La Fleur’ Georgette is a drag queen…created by this young man born Jorge Noe Ledezma in a small town just north of Mexico City… Georgette sits at her kitchen table in North Park with a powder puff and makeup preparing to become her alter-ego…Selena…the Tejano superstar who died tragically but helped a confused 10-year old Mexican boy live and find his true identity. Georgette/Selena Impersonator “I had a lot of bullying when I was a kid because of who I am…but I love what I do…that’s the main thing.” Jorge immigrated to San Diego more than 20 years ago.  and has since settled into happiness and confidence he credits to Selena…her songs and her spirit … “she didn’t speak Spanish so well when she was interviewed…but always you can see she was giving her best. This is my first time having an interview in English and I’m trying to give my best…so we have something in common with that.” ‘Biddi Biddi Bom Bom’ The sounds of Selena are now part of a college curriculum. Professor NATHIAN SHAE RODRIGUEZ pitched the idea for a Selena class to the administration at San Diego State is now a permanent elective offered in the spring semester. Dr. Nate, as students call him…is a fan and fellow Texan who grew up with a heavy influence from the Tejano singer. He built the class syllabus with 16-weeks of learning modules that use Selena as a bridge to Latino culture, media representation, and personal identity…there are field trips for students, too. “ they get to go out into Barrio Logan…they get to see the Selena Mercado and walk the block..they get to go to Mujeres Brew House for the release of the beer…they get to go see drag shows to conduct an ethnography…write about it and take pictures, videos, and sound.” An ethnography is the study of people in their own environment… which includes the LGBTQ community. The next two weeks of class are focused on learning that goes boldly down the rainbow road… Dr. Nate “Selena is a huge inspiration to the queer community …tons of drag queens will impersonate her…a lot of queer people such as myself find meaning in her music. We will learn how we can queer not just Selena’s music but the Latinx culture.” ‘Amor Prohibido’ The term ‘pocha’ is an important vocabulary word featured in class discussions. A pocha is a person caught between two cultures…not completely able to speak Spanish and not completely comfortable in the English-speaking culture…that was Selena…and Karina Bazarte is an SDSU senior who can relate. Karina’s Mexican parents thought they helped her by taking her from the barrio and enrolling her in schools with mostly white students. “the most predominantly white schools and I couldn’t find myself. I thought am I the only one who looks different? The only one that doesn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes? Selena helped me identify who I am now.” Natalia Martinez is Karina’s classmate. She was only 3-weeks old when Selena was killed. “I never really got to have her present, but I had her music…that’s where I was able to create Selena in my head…and thought how this is someone I can have as my role model.”“Como La Fleur” Which brings us back to Georgette…and the little boy from a little Mexican town who used to dance around his living room imagining what he could become someday…listening to the music of Selena… “I was like a Cinderella having a dream come true..and it was so emotional” Georgette is now a veteran performer across Southern California…and the lessons she learned come from the heart and not a classroom…“I think the thing I learn from her is to always be be kind and sweet…that’s how I remember her and what I do every time I’m on stage. That’s a legacy set to music that will never die. MGP KPBS News 

"Selena and Latin-x Media" is once again among the course offerings at S-D-S-U for Spring 20-23.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Erik Anderson. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Millions of people depend on water from the Colorado River, but the supply is shrinking due to climate change. In other news, a major San Diego nonprofit has been hit with a lawsuit alleging racism and gender discrimination. Plus, the San Diego VA Medical Center officially has a new name honoring a female Latina veteran.