drought

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Farmers in the western part of the San Joaquin valley will receive 5% of their water allocation from the Central Valley Project. That's the word from the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

If it’s an April fool’s joke, farmers, water managers and Fresno County leaders aren’t laughing.

After two years of zero percent allocation, the Bureau announced that this year, despite El Nino conditions, many growers on the valley’s west side, will only get five percent of their promised water.

Farmer Sal Parra says the announcement is a gut punch.

US Bureau of Reclamation

Just two years ago California voters approved a water bond that set aside billions to pay for new water storage. Now a new group backed by many of the valley’s most influential farmers says that’s not enough to build new dams and expand existing ones.

State Water Project Estimates Most Deliveries Since Drought's Start

Mar 17, 2016
CA Dept Water Resources

Cities and farmers who rely on the State Water Project will receive the most water they’ve received since 2012. The California Department of Water Resources announced today that it plans to meet 45 percent of requests for deliveries.

It’s a major increase from December, when the state planned to fulfill only 10 percent of requests. Paul Wenger with the California Farm Bureau says it is welcome news. But he and other farmers are hoping the federal Central Valley Project will be able to meet requests.

Proposed Ballot Initiative Would Divert High Speed Rail and Water Bond Money

Mar 16, 2016
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A proposed California ballot initiative would reallocate more than $10 billion from the High Speed Rail project and the 2014 water bond to instead fund water storage projects. As Capital Public Radio’s Amy Quinton reports, the measure would do much more than that.

Opponents of the proposed initiative would seem to be strange bedfellows, some Republican lawmakers who have long fought for water storage projects, environmentalists, and some farmers. Jay Ziegler with the Nature Conservancy says the measure is an attempt to misguide voters.

Delta Smelt Populations Plummet

Mar 8, 2016
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

This is the worst year in history for populations of the tiny threatened fish that’s often on the frontline in California’s water wars. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has found a mere handful of Delta smelt in its January and February trawls.

The department caught seven fish in January and six in February. UC Davis fish biologist Peter Moyle says catches have historically been in the hundreds.

Nader Assemi

Right now, Central California’s rolling mountain foothills are painted in brilliant orange flowers. After years of drought, California poppies are back with a vengeance.

Standing on the side of highway 168, Sandy Kowallis uses a knife to spread sky blue oil paint on a fresh canvas to capture the beauty of two poppy covered hillsides.

“And that should make it even more interesting. Because if you put a complement next to each other, like orange and blue, each will intensify the other,” Kowallis said.

California’s prolonged drought has visible consequences such as depleted reservoirs and mandatory water conservation rules. But one of the more expensive effects could be buried deep in your electric bill.

The Pacific Institute updated its study on the hidden costs of drought and estimated that Californians have paid an additional $2-billion dollars in electrical bills over the last four years.

The Pacific Institute

California’s four year drought has cost residents more than $2-billion dollars in increased electricity costs. That's the findings of an updated report from the Pacific Institute.

As reservoirs dried up over the drought, the amount of electricity produced by hydroelectric power plants has declined.

That means that in order to power the state, California had to produce electricity by more costly means like natural gas.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Drive anywhere in Central California and you’ll see fields of almonds.  Some people wonder if the growth of the almond industry is sustainable. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the price of the nut just may have met a slippery slope.

  

USGS

California’s prolonged drought is once again causing the valley in sink. Groundwater pumping to keep water flowing and plants growing is resulting in the valley floor to settling and sinking in what is known as subsidence. As the water is pulled out the ground underneath fills the space and settles. In some places, the land is subsiding as much as a foot a year.

  Hydrologist Jim Borcher says the Valley has experienced sinking before, but now it is back.

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