drought

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A report released this week argues the consequences of the drought have been more pronounced in some communities than others.

The analysis from the Pacific Institute and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water says water shortages, hikes in water rates and fishery declines have been concentrated in low-income and disadvantaged communities. Additionally, Laura Feinstein with the Pacific Institute says those effects extend beyond the central valley, even to typically wet areas on the North Coast and Central Coast.

Governor Brown’s latest budget proposal has some new language related to clean drinking water.

 

The proposal acknowledges that many of California’s disadvantaged communities rely on contaminated groundwater and lack the resources to operate and maintain safe drinking water systems, but it stops short of any additional funding to fix the problem.

Jonathan Nelson with the advocacy group Community Water Center says this acknowledgement may seem modest now, but it could lead to bigger things.

Friant Water Authority

While a major “atmospheric river” storm system is expected to pummel Central California with historic amounts of rain and snow this weekend, there’s one place you won’t find floodwater: the Friant Kern Canal.

The Friant Water Authority says the 152 mile canal, that carries water from Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River near Fresno all the way to Kern County has been shut down since late last year for maintenance and construction. 

This weekend’s storm could be good news for valley farmers, who hope they’ll be able to store some of the anticipated runoff.

Ara Azhderian is the water policy administrator for the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which represents 29 water contractors that use the San Luis Reservoir. He says the outlook for 2017 is already good.

As California's drought continues to drag on, what's the weather outlook for 2017? Meteorologist Sean Boyd, who is a lecturer in Fresno State's Department of Geography and City & Regional Planning joins us today on Valley Edition to talk about La Nina, rain, snow and more. 

Courtesy KABC Los Angeles / Center For Health Journalism Collaborative

Valley fever has long been a major health concern for people who live in the San Joaquin Valley. A fungus that grows in the soil can become airborne. If inhaled it can cause serious health issues, even death in some cases, though most people who contract the disease have a mild case, and they don’t even know they’ve had it. Now cases of the disease are up significantly in Kern County and some say it is connected to California's weather patterns.

Forecasting An Epidemic: Does Weather Hold The Key To Predicting Valley Fever Outbreaks?

Nov 13, 2016
Craig Kohlruss / The Fresno Bee

When a punishing drought besieged California in the late 1980s, relief came with 30 days of rain in 1991 — dubbed the March Miracle because of how it revived the state’s agricultural economy.

Those significant swings in the weather may have had another consequence, though. The next year, Kern County health officials counted more cases of valley fever than ever before, with roughly 3,342 diagnoses and 25 deaths. By contrast, a decade earlier in 1982, fewer than 200 people were diagnosed with the disease and seven died.

Ezra Romero/KVPR

With the drought in California in its fifth year little is known about how people’s health is affected by it. Thousands of acres have been fallowed, lakes are experiencing toxic algae blooms and water sources for whole communities have dried up.

There have been a few small studies around public health and the drought, but now a larger two-year study is in the works by UC Riverside. To find out what the study hopes to accomplish Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero interviewed Professors Kurt Shwabe and Bruce Link.

Take a listen to the interview by clicking play above.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency as wells across the state began to run dry. This just two years after California became the first state to legally recognize water as a human right. And yet, thousands of residents remain without water, as the state estimates 2,000 wells have run dry. While temporary relief has come to many, permanent relief has still been slow to arrive. Last Friday, a solution finally came to one of Tulare County’s hardest hit communities—but it wasn’t easy, and it’s not the end.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Four years into the drought, an estimated 1,500 wells have run dry in Tulare County. Now, thanks to a state-funded project, relief is finally coming to one of the county’s hardest hit communities.

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