Valley Public Radio - Live Audio


Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio


We all know what a port looks like. There’s water and ships stacked high with shipping containers. But those are often in busy areas on the coast: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland. Well, one Central Valley county has decided to get in on the shipping and distribution game. That county is partnering with the Port of Los Angeles to give their region a boost for distributing around the world.


Foldit screenshot

It wasn’t long after the invention of the internet that scientists discovered the potential for using computing power as a citizen science tool. One of the earliest examples was a computer program developed in the 1990s that allowed users to search for life on other planets. Now a new collaboration takes aim at something a little closer to home: An intersection between citizen science, health, and agriculture, with implications right here in the San Joaquin Valley.

Creative Commons user Pmk58

California has a new water problem, but it's not drought, and it's not endangered fish. Instead it's a roughly 20-pound creature that's described as an "invasive swamp rodent" called the nutria. It's already causing problems in Merced County wetlands and state officials worry the pesky and prolific rodent could further destroy already fragile ecosystems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta and threaten the state's network of canals and levees.

CA WaterFix

The California Department of Water Resources has announced it will scale back Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build two water tunnels beneath the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Under the proposal released today the California WaterFix would be broken up into two phases. The first phase would include only one tunnel with a capacity of 6,000 cfs. A second, smaller tunnel with a capacity of 3,000 cfs could be added at a later date.

California Citrus Mutual

The law enforcement agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, may be ramping up its inspections of worksites—and a Valley grower is one of the first to feel the consequences.

Fowler-based Bee Sweet Citrus says it may have lost a fifth of its workforce in anticipation of an inspection by ICE. The federal agency notified Bee Sweet that later this month, it would conduct an I-9 inspection. Meaning the company will need to hand over the forms that verify the identity and employment authorization of each of its employees.

This week on Valley Edition - an exclusive report from Valley Public Radio's Kerry Klein about a secretive ICE facility hidden in plain sight in downtown Fresno, and why civil liberties groups are concerned about what goes on inside. We also talk with journalist Mark Arax about his new magazine article about billionaire valley farmers Stewart and Lynda Resnick.

Ian Faloona, UC Davis


When you hear about air pollution, you may think of vehicle emissions, industrial smokestacks and wood burning. But a new study reveals another major source right below your feet in the Central Valley.

The pollutants in question are nitrogen oxides, a family of harmful gases known collectively as NOx. They’re precursors to ozone and particulate matter, which can lead to a litany of short and long-term health problems.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

The 2016-2017 water year was one of the wettest on record in California. While all that water in the system was enough to officially end the state’s drought, its impact on endangered species is another story, especially when it comes to the Delta smelt. A survey conducted in October 2017 by state and federal agencies found only 2 of the fish, the lowest number on record.

Randi Lynn Beach / used with permission

California's mammoth feats of water engineering in the 20th century turned the barren west side of the San Joaquin Valley into the most productive farmland in the world. But in the 21st century, as society's appreciation of the environmental costs of these water diversions, many have questioned whether west side farms will last into the next century. Combined with the threats of drought, climate change, and increasing salinity, the question is fertile ground for photojournalist Randi Lynn Beach.

Today on Valley Edition we hear a report about changes looming in Fresno's historic Chinatown neighborhood. Many roads in the area are already closed with construction on high-speed rail, and that's causing some concern among business owners. Yet others are optimistic about a brighter future ahead, with new community improvements, millions in cap-and-trade funding, new housing, and the future rail station. We also hear a report about the role the U.S. military has played in researching valley fever, much of which has taken place at Lemoore Naval Air Station.

Westlands Water District website

Growers in the Westlands Water District hope congressional approval of a deal with the federal government could resolve a long-standing problem on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley - drainage. However final approval of the deal reached in 2015 remains both elusive and controversial.  

California Department of Pesticide Regulation Facebook page

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has officially adopted new regulations on the use of pesticides near schools and daycare centers. The new rules go into effect in January and prohibit application on crops that are within a quarter mile of schools and daycare centers, Monday through Friday between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

One of the most widely used insecticides in America is the subject of a regulatory battle. Earlier this year the Trump administration chose not to move ahead with efforts to ban chlorpyrifos, first put in place by the Obama administration.  Now, California is in the process of tightening its own regulations of the insecticide, and that has some farmers searching for answers.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers are relying more and more on technology to help them manage their crops and often that means working with unmanned aerial systems. Using drones to make two dimensional maps of orchards isn’t anything new, but one agricultural researcher – Ali Pourreza – in Central California is taking existing drone technology to the next level.

“I thought, okay, two-dimensional imaging has been around a long time and it's helped a lot, but right now we have the capability to make 3D models,” says Pourreza.

Westlands Water District website

Last week was a bad one for one of California Governor Jerry Brown’s biggest priorities – the project known as California WaterFix. The board of the Westlands Water District voted 7-1 to reject a proposal to participate in, and help pay for the $16 billion twin tunnel project. That vote has left many asking whether the project has a future. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California farmers and environmental justice leaders are joining forces to support a bill that would help fund a clean drinking water program.

Klearchos Kapoutsis /

The total value of agricultural goods sold last year in Fresno County dropped in value by around $482 million compared to 2015 according to the 2016 Annual Crop and Livestock Production Report released in mid-August by Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Les Wright.


Wright blames the lack of surface water supplies. Other farm goods like livestock fell by around 7 percent or $6 million dollars last year as well. Still the county produced over $6 billion in agricultural goods in 2016.


Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California's multi-billion dollar citrus industry is asking the Trump administration to ensure that Canadian and Mexican markets remain open to oranges, lemons and grapefruit from the San Joaquin Valley. Joel Nelson, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual says he hopes negotiators "do no harm" as they re-open talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Speaking on KVPR's Valley Edition, Nelson also said that other export markets remain a concern. 

Blue River Technology

Let’s face it farmers are usually slow to change their practices for a couple reasons. Change usually comes with a high price tag – a new tractor can cost a half million dollars. And farmers want to minimize risk by only investing in things that have been successfully tested and in the end don’t reduce profits. But robots are slowly changing that perspective.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Oil companies in California produce more water than oil. In the San Joaquin Valley that also has created a problem: what to do with all of that unwanted water? In most cases that wastewater is injected back into the ground, deep below the aquifer. But in some cases, injections may have contaminated federally protected aquifers that could be clean enough for drinking water.