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Water
7:41 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

New Survey Says Californians Overwhelmingly Support Statewide Groundwater Plan

Credit California Department of Water Resources

An overwhelming majority of likely California voters say they favor a statewide groundwater management plan over the status quo. The results are part of a new survey released today. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports. 

The survey was commissioned by the non-profit California Water Foundation. It finds the prolonged drought has focused public opinion on the need to regulate groundwater. Pollster David Metz says few Californians think the state is doing an adequate job of managing.the resource.

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Government & Politics
7:37 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Fresno City Council Puts Off Measure W Decision, Asks For Study

Fresno City Hall (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno voters may get to weigh in on a referendum that would overturn a planned hike in water rates, but the final decision didn't come Thursday. 

Instead of moving forward with putting Measure W on the November ballot, or repealing the rate hikes - the city council voted to commission an expedited study on the issue.

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High Speed Rail
7:26 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Wait On Poochigian Proposal To Oppose High Speed Rail

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors decided to wait on a proposal Tuesday that would have formally positioned the county as opposed to California’s high speed rail project. The effort which was led by Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, who says the project’s funding should be diverted to other areas like water or public safety.

Poochigian spoke with Valley Public Radio on Monday afternoon before the meeting:

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Water
7:01 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Fines Now Possible for California Water Wasters

file photo
Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A state agency took a major step to encourage water conservation Tuesday. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it voted to allow large fines for wasting water.

The State Water Resources Control Board has adopted emergency regulations that allow local water agencies to levy fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water outdoors. Board Chair Felicia Marcus says collecting money isn’t the goal. Convincing urban water users to conserve is.

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Drought
6:37 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Groundwater Helping Farmers Endure California Drought, UC Davis Says

Pistachios in Kern County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Research from UC Davis suggests California farmers are mostly able to maintain production during the drought because of their use of underground water– but environmentalists, scientists and farmers agree the practice is not a long term solution. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

California farming will take a financial hit because of the drought. But for the most part, the UC Davis drought study says groundwater will supply what’s lacking in surface water. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute says pumping groundwater can’t continue to go unregulated.   

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Business & Economy
5:32 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Drought Hurts Fresno County Crop Value, Dropping Behind Tulare County

For the first time, almonds topped grapes as Fresno County's number one crop in 2013.

A report released today shows that Fresno's agricultural industry has slipped out of its first-place standing in the state.  The 2013 Fresno County crop report shows that its total gross value of agricultural products last year was $6.4 billion, over $1.3 billion behind Tulare County--the first time since 2002 that Tulare swung to the top of the list.

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Drought
5:05 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Drought Could Cost California Economy $2.2 Billion In 2014, Says Study

Managing groundwater reserves is key to the state surviving a long-term drought. Here, Senior Engineering Geologist Chris Bonds from the California Department of Water Resources monitors flow rate from a well.
Credit John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

The California economy could lose $2.2 billion this year because of the drought. Max Pringle reports on a UC Davis study that shows the agriculture industry alone could lose $1.5 billion.

The study says California will have to make do with a third less water this year and that could lead to 430 thousand acres of fallow farmland. Former UC Davis Economist Richard Howitt says the pain won’t be spread evenly throughout the state.

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Government & Politics
5:00 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Measure W Signals Shift in Fresno Politics

Credit Valley Public Radio

A grassroots campaign to roll back a planned water rate hike that then sparked a lengthy legal battle could soon wind up before Fresno voters.

On Thursday the Fresno City Council will decide whether to put a referendum called Measure W on the November ballot, or to repeal the water rate plan. The move comes after a citizens group announced last week that its petition drive has collected over 5,500 valid signatures—more than enough to qualify for the ballot.

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Government & Politics
4:02 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

In Fresno, De Leon Backtracks On Tumbleweed Comments

During his trip to the Central Valley, Kevin de Leon, right, takes a tour of Roosevelt High School with Luis Chavez, a Fresno Unified Board Member.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Incoming State Senate President pro tem Kevin de Leon made his first official appearance in Fresno today just weeks after controversial comments about the San Joaquin Valley and high speed rail. FM89's Diana Aguilera reports.

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Kevin de Leon visited Fresno's Roosevelt High School today to learn how Fresno Unified plans to use about $90 million dollars in state funding to retrofit aging campuses for energy efficiency.

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High Speed Rail
1:14 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

James Fallows: California's High Speed Rail Plan Is 'Better Than The Alternatives'

James Fallows

The Atlantic's James Fallows says California's high speed rail project may be flawed and expensive, but he also calls it better than other methods of accommodating the state's growing population.

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Valley Edition
12:35 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Valley Edition: June 15 - Google In Merced; High Speed Rail With James Fallows, Debbie Poochigian

Valley Edition July 15, 2014
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look at innovation at Castle Air Force Base in Merced County, learn about the medical backlog in Fresno County, talk with writer James Fallows and Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian about California High Speed Rail, and speak with NPR's

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Business & Economy
11:16 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Google's Self-Driving Car And Others Use Merced As A Landing Pad

Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, Calif., was once a booming military base, but nearly two decades after it closed the miltary installation is coming back to life.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

This is the first story in a two part series by Ezra David Romero about what some are calling a tech boom in Central California. This week we talk Merced, next we explore Fresno. 

Meet a guy who wakes up and spends his entire day with Google.

“I’m Daniel Galindo, I’m a student at the Merced JC,” Galindo says.

This 22-year-old won’t label himself as nerd or a techie; he doesn’t have a programming degree or write code.

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Business & Economy
8:48 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Fresno Bar Is First To Go On California High Speed Rail

California high speed rail is one step closer to becoming a reality with the demolition of this building.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The jaws of a giant excavator tore through what was the old Annie’s Hollywood Inn bar in West Fresno Monday morning.

“The excavator right there is going to hit the back of that building and because it’s so small it’s not going to take long; probably if we blink it’ll be down in five minutes,” says Jill Kroeker with J. Kroeker Inc.

The demolition of the 66-year-old bar is the first of many to be reduced to smithereens as part of construction along the first 29 mile segment of California High Speed Rail.

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Health
10:35 am
Fri July 11, 2014

11,000 Stuck In Fresno County's Medi-Cal Backlog

Irving Toscano became newly eligible for Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act.

California’s poor continue to face month long waits in getting state health coverage. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera reports how a young couple in Fresno County is dealing with the backlog.

Paola Martinez and her husband Irving Toscano thought they had done everything right to get health care coverage.

They made sure they met the Medi-Cal eligibility requirements, they filled out the paperwork and signed up through the Covered California website at the end of March.

But ever since then, they’ve been waiting.

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Environment
6:34 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Report: Groundwater Management Plans Need Significant Improvement

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

A new report finds local water agencies need to do a better job managing groundwater in California. Amy Quinton has the details from Sacramento.

The California Water Foundation looked at 120 groundwater management plans adopted by local water agencies. In a nutshell, the results aren’t good. Almost 30 percent were written in 2002 or earlier. Many lacked objectives and an implementation strategy.

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Drought
6:08 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Forecasters: El Nino Not Likely To Help Ease Drought

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter.
National Weather Service

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter. And, as Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento, the drought is expected to continue next year.

National Weather Service forecasters say the chance of El Niño is about 70 percent during the Northern Hemisphere this summer and is close to 80 percent during the fall and early winter.

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Environment
5:44 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Waterless Madera County Locale Hears The Faucet Run

Home Depot donated cases of water to the community.
Credit Johannes Hoevertsz / Madera County

For the last three days a water crisis in a small community outside Madera left its residents without potable water. FM89’s Ezra David Romero has more on how Madera County is bringing water to this parched community.

Thursday was the first day that the 2,300 residents in the community of Parkwood, just south of Madera, have had pure enough water to drink come out of their faucets. The reason? The well that supports the community failed.

Johannes Hoevertsz the county public works director helped distribute bottled water.

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The Moral Is
8:00 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Commentary: Politicans Can't Escape Human Nature When It Comes To Receiving Gifts

While their professional organizations discourage physicians from accepting gifts from corporations that may unduly influence their professional practice, no such strictures apply to gifting our politicians.  In this  edition of FM89's commentary series The Moral Is, philosophy professor Christopher Meyers of CSU Bakersfield says the public should also be wary of the  continues his earlier theme on the impact of the possible ramifications of allowing unlimited gifting to politicians.

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The Moral Is
8:00 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Commentary: Climate Change Raises Tough Ethical Questions

Andrew Fiala

Governor Jerry Brown recently said, “humanity is on a collision course with nature.”  He was referring to climate change and the early advent of the fire season here in California.  In related remarks, Brown said we have to “live with nature.”

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Environment
4:09 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Environmentalists Call For Halt To Oil Shipments By Rail

Environmental activists rallied Wednesday in Sacramento against plans by oil companies to increase crude oil shipments through populated areas in California and other states by rail. They say increasing the trips would raise the threat to the public.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Environmental activists rallied Wednesday in Sacramento against plans by oil companies to increase crude oil shipments through populated areas in California and other states by rail. They say increasing the trips would raise the threat to public safety.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson has authored a bill that he says will make transporting oil by rail safer. It would require oil and rail companies to better coordinate with first responders.

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