Voices of the Drought

In this occasional series the Valley Public Radio news team explores the impacts of the drought through the voices and sounds of Central California. We invite listeners and viewers to engage in the series by leaving comments on stories and by sharing Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts using the hashtag #droughtvoices. Posts and photos using the hashtag may appear on the Voices of the Drought Tumblr page alongside stories the news team produces.

Hashtag: #droughtvoices
Tumblr: http://voicesofthedrought.tumblr.com/

Please send story ideas, comments and drought related information to Producer/Reporter Ezra David Romero at eromero@kvpr.org or on Twitter @ezraromero

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Drought
4:28 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

California, Is It Time To Wave Goodbye To Your Front Lawn?

Photo submitted by Hannah_75 to the Valley Public Radio series Voices of the Drought.

While agriculture is California’s largest consumer of water, Governor Jerry Brown wants to increase the focus on commercial and resident users. Jeffrey Hess with Valley Public Radio reports they are a big focus of Brown’s new mandatory water restrictions.

Golf course, cemeteries and other large plots of land will soon be required to reduce their usage under the new rules.

Governor Brown also wants to remove 50-million square feet of lawn around the state and replace it with drought resistant landscaping.

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Drought
10:51 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Drought: California's 2015 Cotton Planting May Be As Small As The One In 1910

Stock Photo
Credit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

California was once the number one cotton growing state in the nation, but the drought has changed that. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on why the total cotton acreage in the state has dropped.

California cotton farmers are in the process of planting over 170,000 acres of the crop.

That sounds like a lot, but according to Roger Isom the number of acres expected to be planted in the state this year have plummeted to the point of plantings not seen since around 1910.

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Drought
4:25 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Drought: Fresno County Lettuce Crop Cut In Half

File Photo
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The drought has become so bad in Central California that it’s now affecting the ingredients in your salad bowl. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on a major drop in the lettuce harvest in the region. 

During the first few weeks of spring the Central Valley usually harvests almost the entire supply of the nation’s head lettuce, but this year the supply is meager.

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Water
10:26 am
Wed March 25, 2015

New State Office Could Help Poor Valley Communities Get Clean Drinking Water

Credit Valley Public Radio

The emergency drought relief bill that California lawmakers will begin voting on Wednesday would create a new state office. That might sound fairly mundane. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, supporters say it could help disadvantaged communities.

Clean water advocates will tell you that it can sometimes take decades for small or poor communities to get clean drinking water. Laurel Firestone is with the Community Water Center.

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Drought
2:07 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Drought: Rafting Season Cancelled For Many In Kern County

http://kernrafting.com/
Credit http://kernrafting.com/

The Kern River isn’t especially deep or wide  to quote Merle Haggard – but it is one of the wildest rivers in the state. It’s also a mecca for whitewater enthusiasts in search of thrilling adventures down the canyon every spring and summer. 

But with California mired in a historic drought, and snowpack only around 10 percent of normal for this time of year average, this year may be different. Among those feeling the pain are the many companies that specialize in whitewater tours on the Kern River, both below and above Lake Isabella.

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Environment
5:03 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Peter Gleick: California Reservoirs at the "Bottom Of The Barrel"

Credit John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

Earlier this month an op-ed ran in the LA Times with a headline eluding that California will run out of water in a year.  Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports while the record setting drought is bad, we’re not there yet.

The California drought is serious.

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Drought
11:19 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Hot Droughts: Stanford Study Links Drought And Global Warming

Millerton Lake, May 2014
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California is now in the fourth year of its on-going drought, and this winter’s meager snowpack has water experts worried, thanks to remarkably warm temperatures. But scientists at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment say that in just a few decades, this severe condition could be the new norm, thanks to climate change.

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Drought
3:08 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

#DroughtVoices Joins Statewide Tour of 'California: The Tempest'

Credit Cornerstone Theater Company

What do you get when you add Shakespeare to California?

Fowler.

The traveling Los Angeles based Cornerstone Theater Company is hosting a rendition of the play 'The Tempest' in Fowler this week called 'California: The Tempest.'

Fowler is just one of 10 stops along the company's journey. Other cities in the tour include Valley locales like Arvin and Lost Hills and larger cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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Government & Politics
6:24 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Salas Bill Would Help Homeowners Rip Out Lawns

A drought-resistant garden in the Central Valley. (file photo)
Credit Central Valley Friendly Landscaping Website - http://ucanr.edu/sites/cvlandscape/ / University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

It might become a little easier to replace your lawn with artificial grass if a new bill in Sacramento becomes law. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says he wants to take the model the state has used to subsidize solar power on homes across the state and apply it to another green project – removing lawns.

Salas introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide a tax credit to homeowners who remove their lawns and replace them either with drought-resistant landscaping or synthetic lawns.

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Drought
11:51 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Matt Black: Capturing Images of California’s Drought

Fallowed tomato fields. Corcoran, California.
Matt Black

Some of the most vivid depictions of California’s drought have come from Exeter-based photographer Matt Black. In 2014 TIME Magazine named him their “Instagram Photographer of the Year” for his stark images of dust storms, dry fields, and parched rivers.

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Drought
1:47 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Drought-Stricken Valley Town Gets Hot Showers

Gilberto Sandoval, 81, lives across the street from the church where the showers are installed.
Credit Ezra David Romro / Valley Public Radio

Drought conditions in parts of Central California have become so harsh that it’s normal to turn on the tap have no coming out.  A few months ago we brought you the story of East Porterville where more than 600 homes are without water because their household wells have dried up. Now, some of the town’s residents will have access to something they haven’t had in months. 

The last time Gilberto Sandoval took a warm shower was over a month ago.

“I’ve  been without running water for the last three months,” Sandoval says. “ No water whatsoever.”

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Arts & Culture
1:34 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Valley Public Radio Presents #DroughtVoices For October ArtHop

Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 

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Health
4:39 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

In East Porterville "They Were Drinking Water That Looked Yellow And Red"

Andrea Zousino has lived in East Porterville all her life. She says this is the first time that the private well that supplies water to her home went dry.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This story is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

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Environment
12:49 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Valley Farmers Worried About New Groundwater Regulations

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

California Governor Jerry Brown made history Tuesday morning when he signed into law three bills that for the first time will regulate groundwater in the state. California had been the only state in the nation that did not regulate groundwater at the state level.

While many environmental groups praised the move, a number of valley agriculture interests opposed the new regulations. This week on Valley Edition, we talked to Joel Nelson of the Exeter-based group California Citrus Mutual about his concerns about the new laws. 

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Environment
11:47 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Can't Afford To Dig A New Well? You'll Have To Hire This Guy

Eugene Keeney delivers water all across Central California. He says the calls came in extra early this year.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio.

With fires raging in the region and no sign that the drought will ease up, farmers and even homeowners are on the hunt for water. The initial answer is to dig a new well. But wells are expensive. In this piece FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on a solution that many Valley homeowners rely on.

Eugene Keeney hooks his 2,500 gallon water truck to a fire hydrant on the northern edge of Clovis. 

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Environment
5:44 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Interactive Website Aims to Tackle Water Issues

Credit cawaterchallenge.org

In California, water availability is becoming a serious problem—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative solutions.

Developers at a San Francisco non-profit have created the California Water Challenge, an interactive website that aims to teach players about the state’s water problems while prompting them to make difficult decisions about how to solve them.

Noel Perry is the founder of Next 10, the company that created the tool.

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Health
6:12 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Seville Residents Get Green Light to Drink Tap Water

Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The community of Seville has received good news: its residents can finally drink their tap water.

With the help of Tulare County and state emergency funding, the unincorporated community last month drilled a new well for its 500 residents—and tests just confirmed that its water is potable.

The community had been struggling for years with high levels of nitrates and leaky pipes.  Ryan Jensen with the Community Water Center says water pressure is also a problem: when it’s too low, contaminants can get in.

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Environment
4:59 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Junction Fire: Residents Recall Flight From Blaze

Oakhurst resident Rhonda Schmitz and her dog Penny wait for the night to pass so they can head home.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: Wednesday August 20th 9:00 AM - Fire crews made good progress on the Junction Fire Tuesday and the blaze is now 40 percent contained. The mandatory evacuation orders for areas west of Highway 41 have been lifted except for Road 620. Areas east of Highway 41 remain closed. Highway 41 to Yosemite is now open.

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Valley Edition
12:16 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Valley Edition: July 29 - Fresno Tech; #DroughtShaming; Olive Oil & Calif. Oil Boom?; Marshall Tuck

Valley Edition July 29, 2014.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition reporter Ezra David Romero takes a look at Fresno's tech boom, Grist writer Nathanael Johnson and Robert Rocha of Madera based Enzo Olive Oil chime in on whether olive oil will be the oil in the next California oil boom, and host Joe Moore speaks with Marshall Tuck who is running for state superintendent of pu

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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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