drought

The newest reading of California’s critical mountain snow pack is showing that the state currently has zero-percent of its normal snow levels. The snow reading is the lowest ever taken at this point of the year.

A warm, dry winter means that little snow fell in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.

The snow pack is critical to replenishing California’s surface water supply.

Maury Roos with the California Department of Water Resources says the measurement has never come in this low. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition Reporter Jeffrey Hess reports on how Fresno is leveraging big data to improve city functions. Later, Reporter Ezra David Romero goes on a Central Valley tour to find the ugly food that'll be found in a CSA-style home delivered box.

LA Times

California's drought isn't just a water shortage. It's also an event that has highlighted the political, cultural and economic divides that make up the Golden State in the 21st century.

The one common thread? Everyone wants to find someone to blame. Urban residents in San Francisco blame "greedy" San Joaquin Valley farmers. San Joaquin Valley farmers blame Bay Area "extreme" environmentalists. And Southern California groups blame political gridlock in Sacramento on such key issues as building more water storage and "fixing" the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. 

California Water Regulators Agree To Cutback Program For Farmers

May 22, 2015
http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

California water regulators are praising some Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta farmers for coming up with a program to voluntarily cut water use.

The State Water Resources Control Board today approved a deal in which farmers with some of the oldest rights to divert water from rivers would reduce use by 25-percent or fallow 25-percent of their land. The board says those farmers who participate would no longer risk future water curtailments. Felicia Marcus is Chair of the water board.

Kern County Fire Department Facebook page

California’s drought has caused many lakes and rivers to drop to low levels; but officials say it hasn’t eliminated the risk of drowning. FM-89’s Jason Scott reports on why one local river is of particular concern.

The Kern River is one of many popular spots travelers will flock to to this Memorial Day weekend. But officials warn that despite the drought, the river can still be deadly, especially if people ignore safety precautions.

Al Watson is a ranger with the Sequoia National Forest.  He says the river can still pose a drowning hazard despite its low levels.  

Poll Shows Wide Support For Water Conservation

May 21, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new Field Poll shows almost two-thirds of Californians surveyed support Governor Jerry Brown's urban water reduction plan.  Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Field Poll says nearly 89-percent of people surveyed believe the current water shortage in California is serious, with 66-percent saying the drought is ‘extremely serious.’

But 44-percent of homeowners said it would be difficult for them to cut household water use.

About 70 percent said it would be a serious problem for them if their local water district raised household water bills by 15 or 25 percent.

Geoffrey Thurner / Fresno State

The historic California drought is now affecting college campuses in the region. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology plans to cut its water use by at least 25 percent this year on its 1,000-acre farm. 

To reach their goal Farm Coordinator Mark Salwasser says the college plans to fallow just over 10 percent of their land.

Water Board Considers Voluntary Water Cut From Delta Area Farmers

May 21, 2015
California Department of Water Resources

Some farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta who hold the most senior water rights may agree to a 25-percent cut in their consumption. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the proposal comes as California water regulators consider mandatory curtailments.

Under the proposal, farmers who hold rights to divert water along a river or stream would either reduce irrigation use or leave fields fallow. In exchange, they want guarantees that regulators wouldn’t restrict remaining water. Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney for a group of farmers, says it’s a practical solution.

A new cell phone app that could help Fresnans track their water consumption is headed toward development. The app is the brainchild of a group of five sixth graders.

Calling themselves the ‘fab five’, the boys came up with and pitched the idea of an app that taps into data collected by city water meters and supplies daily updates on a person’s water use.

Due in part to a 25-thousand dollar donation from AT&T, the team has now raised the nearly 60-thousand dollars needed to hire a local technology company to code the app.

Ezra David Romero

This week on Valley Edition reporters from around the state report on drought including stories about swimming pools, drought friendly recipes and water conservation in Central California

California Pool Construction Soars During Drought

May 14, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Californians built more backyard swimming pools last year than in any year since the peak of the housing boom. And this year, the state is on pace to shatter last year’s mark. All this, during one of the worst droughts in California history. That’s prompting some very different reactions from local water agencies, as Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.

 Aaron Gurley watches his crew tap a leveling tool into wet concrete around the edge of a huge backyard hole-in-the-ground.

Drought May Mean The End For Some Native Fish

May 14, 2015
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The drought in California is taking a heavy toll on native fish. Some experts fear if the drought lasts much longer, it may be a death knell for some species. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the Delta smelt is likely headed toward extinction.

Sarah Forman

In response to California’s historic drought some chefs are creating meals that use less water. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Foods Institute.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Forest managers throughout California say that thinning forests to a more natural state is a good way to reduce the severity of wildfires. Now scientists suggest that it also could offer help in saving water in the drought. 

Researchers at UC Merced think that thinning overgrown forests throughout the Sierra could result in as much as a million acre feet of extra water each year for the state. That’s enough water to fill Pine Flat Lake on the Kings River east of Fresno.

The drought across much of the Western U.S. is now in its fourth year. In California — where it's the most intense — farms are not under the same strict orders to conserve as cities are.

And inside the agriculture industry, farmers are quietly debating how best to respond to the drought. Given uncertainty around pending state regulations, some say there may be an incentive to not invest in water-saving technologies right now.

Brown Defends Delta Tunnels Project, Agriculture Industry

May 7, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown says opponents of his Delta water tunnel proposal should just “shut up.” He spoke to the Association of California Water Agencies in Sacramento Wednesday.

One day after the State Water Resources Control Board set mandatory reduction requirements for every local water agency, Brown thanked the agencies for helping California through the drought.

And then, he turned to what many in the room believe is their future water source: two tunnels underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to move water south.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In Kern County the oil industry and the world of farming are working hand in hand, but not everyone is happy about that. As Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports there are growing concerns over the use of oil field wastewater used to irrigate prime farmland.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Imagine going to your kitchen sink to wash dishes, but when you turn on the tap little or now water flows out. That's the reality in homes of many people across the Central Valley, especially as the historic drought worsens.

As part of FM89's series My Valley, My Story featuring first person accounts from people throughout the San Joaquin Valley reporter Ezra David Romero visits the Madera County community of Chowchilla, where one family has lived without water for five years. 

"My first name is Rosa Garaby. I've been here 38 years."

Brown Revises Bay Delta Water Plan, Faces Criticism

May 1, 2015

California Governor Jerry Brown has revised his plan to restore habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, much to the dismay of environmental groups. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan also includes design changes for the proposed twin tunnels that would carry water south.

Governor Brown sold his plan to build two tunnels in the Delta with the promise that habitat would be restored. The number most commonly mentioned was 100,000 acres. Brown says that was just an “idea” with no way to pay for it.  He now proposes 30,000 acres.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: California going back to the drawing board to deal with their drought.

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