drought

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.

Congress.gov

With negotiations on new compromise water legislation for California farmers currently deadlocked in Congress, is there a chance of a deal in 2016? Or will it be too late to capture El Nino floodwaters and store them for the future? Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) joined us on Valley Edition to offer his insights into the water negotiations, and why he's concerned the lack of a deal might leave many valley farmers with another year of zero allocations of water, even with a strong El Nino. 

Ezra Davd Romero

FM89's series My Valley, My Story features first person accounts from the lives of people throughout the San Joaquin Valley. In this piece FM89’s Ezra David Romero visits the tiny town of Fairmead near Chowchilla in Madera County and meets an elderly couple grappling with water issues at their rural home. 

“My name is Joanne De Freitas. Almost two years ago our well started collapsing.”

“We had Anderson pump come out and they were able to go down a little bit further, but our pump is at 287 feet and we can’t go any further than that.”

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Tulare County is ground zero for drought. More than 2,000 household wells have gone dry leaving families without water. The county has provided tanks and water to many homeowners, but as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports, officials says their hands are tied when it comes to providing the service to renters.

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