Californians Reduce Water Use By 27 Percent in June

Jul 31, 2015
Kelly M Grow / Department of Water Resources

Water regulators are praising Californians for reducing their water use by 27 percent in June. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some communities still have a long way to go to meet mandatory requirements.

Historical movements, wars and disasters around the globe have created signature sounds in music. Think freedom songs like “We Shall Overcome” or even Prince’s “Baltimore.” California is in its fourth year of drought and songs about a drying state are now emerging. From Here & Now’s contributing station Valley Public Radio, Ezra David Romero reports.

Funding Targets Farmworkers Hurt By The Drought

Jul 27, 2015
CA Dept of Water Resources

New state and federal funding will provide relief for farmworkers hurt by California's drought. The US Department of Labor is providing 18 million dollars, and the state is providing 7.5 million dollars. Lesley McClurg in Sacramento has more.

An estimated 18,000 people have lost their jobs because of the drought -- most of them in the Central Valley.

Marco Lizarrga: "What we call the ground zero of the drought. Mendotta and Firebaugh and those little farm towns that are the sources of the cantaloupes and the sources of other products have been heavily impacted."

Study Shows Wildfires Occurring At Higher Elevations

Jul 27, 2015
Sierra National Forest

A new study shows wildfires are increasingly occurring at higher elevations in the Sierra Nevada. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, researchers say climate change and some forest management practices may be driving the change.

Scientists say in the early 20th century, fires rarely burned above 8,000 feet in the Sierra. But in the past three decades, several fires have burned at or above that level every year. The study suggests warming temperatures associated with climate change may be increasing tree density and the amount of fuel.

Valley Citrus Growers Feeling More Pain As Drought Drags On

Jul 23, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Citrus growers in the Central Valley say fewer trees are producing fruit, so the price of citrus could increase at the grocery store.  But, farmers' costs have skyrocketed because of the drought.

Zack Stuller is a grower in Exeter. He says he hasn't received water from the Central Valley Water Project in two years.

He has spent $2,000 an acre foot for water from distant agencies and  $70,000 to dig a well for six-acres of lemons.

More Wildfires In California, But No 'Mega Fires' In 2015 So Far

Jul 22, 2015
Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

There's been a significant increase in the number of wildfires this year in California. But, as Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento, the size of the fires has been relatively small.

Four years of drought and record warm temperatures have created dangerous wildfire conditions in California.

And, it's been a busy year for firefighters.

Berlant: "Already this year we've responded to well over 1200 more fires than we would in an average year for the same time period." 

Climate Scientist: Don't Count On El Nino To End California's Drought

Jul 22, 2015

Federal climate scientists say it was a record warm June for California. Capital Public Radio's Ed Joyce reports the hot weather is forecast to continue into the fall.

In this fourth year of drought, NOAA says California had its warmest June in 121 years. The agency said last year was the warmest on record for the state. And this last winter, California had a record-low snowpack in the Sierra.

Famiglietti: "I think that this past winter is representative of what we will very likely be seeing more of in the future."

What’s the difference between a smiling mascot and a stern warning? More than 2. 5 million gallons of water a month in Fresno. That’s according to a social experiment the city ran to encourage greater water conservation.

Fresno used data from the city’s water meters to target people watering on non-approved days and sent each home one of two different fliers.

One is black and white and appears very serious. The other is in color and features a playful mascot.

Office of Rep. David Valadao

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act, which promises to bring more water to valley farmers. Written by Hanford Republican David Valadao, and co-sponsored by Fresno Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, the bill would change the way the government manages water in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta and threatened species. It would also make major changes to the plan to restore the San Joaquin River. 

Scott Bauer / Bioscience

Marijuana is big business in California. By some estimates pot is actually the state's top cash crop. But with the boom in marijuana cultivation, there is also a significant environmental toll. Mountain tops are being leveled, and streams are being illegally diverted threatening species already stressed by the drought. With the possibility of marijuana legalization looming in 2016, the issue of how to clean up the environmental damage caused by pot production is a big concern.