Environment

Drought
5:27 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons Of Water To End Drought

Water scientist Jay Famiglietti
Credit UC Irvine

California needs one and a half times the maximum volume of water in Lake Mead, the largest US reservoir, to end its drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, NASA scientists released the finding today.

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Environment
5:02 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Storms And Muddy Delta Water Lead To Voluntary Pumping Cutback

The Delta Mendota Canal is used to transport water from the Delta to Central Valley Project customers in the San Joaquin Valley.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Region

The recent storms that have hit northern and Central California have much brought needed rain and snow to the state. But they also created a new problem for the operators of the massive pumps in the Delta that supply users in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California - too much water. 

Ara Azhderian is with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in Los Banos. 

Azhderian: "With all that water comes a whole lot of mud and trash and debris as well, so a little too much of a good thing too fast."

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Drought
3:30 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Strong Storms May Not Improve California Water Supply Much

Pine Flat Lake east of Fresno on the Kings River (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Northern California storms are causing water levels to rise in the state’s reservoirs. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the rain won’t do a lot to improve the state’s water supply.

California now has above average rainfall at the eight monitoring stations in the Northern Sierra. But the storm is not going to come close to ending the state’s drought. The Department of Water Resources says California would need five to ten more storms this season. Doug Carlson with DWR says storms have also been too warm.

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Environment
12:25 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Infill Is Key To Fresno's New General Plan, But It's Also Controversial

Credit Heather Heinks / City of Fresno General Plan Update

The Fresno City Council is scheduled to hear public comments on the city’s new 2035 general plan in meeting at the Convention Center this evening. The move is the last step before a vote next week on the document that will chart the city’s growth for decades to come.

City planning director Jennifer Clark says the new General Plan attempts to answer a question that has perplexed city leaders for decades:

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Drought
12:51 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Study Says California Drought Caused By Natural Climate Patterns

Folsom Lake as seen in 2011 (top) and 2014 (bottom)
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says natural occurring climate patterns –not climate change- are the primary drivers of California’s drought. 

The NOAA study says a high-pressure atmospheric ridge off the West Coast blocked important winter storms from California for three winters. Ocean surface temperature patterns made the ridge much more likely. The decreased precipitation is almost the opposite of what climate change models project.

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Environment
3:47 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Californians Conserved Less Water In October

Credit Valley Public Radio

For the second straight month, California’s water conservation rate has declined. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the State Water Resources Control Board says the reason behind the drop isn’t clear.

You could call it “conservation fatigue.” But the reason behind California’s diminishing conservation rate is more complicated than that. The statewide rate dropped from 10.3 percent in September to six-point-seven percent in October. Eric Oppenheimer with the State Water Resources Control Board says one reason for the difference may be the season change.

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Environment
3:38 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

New Nature Preserve To Open in Tulare County

Blue Oak Ranch
Credit http://www.sequoiariverlands.org/

Central California is home to some of the state’s most beautiful areas from Yosemite Valley to high sierra lakes to rolling foothills.

Lovers of that last topography have something to cheer about this winter as a new nature preserve in Tulare County is about to open to the public for the first time. It’s called Blue Oak Ranch and it’s located near Springville.

We talked about what this preserve means to the valley with Ann Huber of the Sequoia Riverlands Trust. Listen to the interview above.

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Environment
3:08 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Valley Edition: Will Proposed EPA Limits To Ozone Pollution Safeguard The Valley?

Credit Joe Moore

Last week the US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a plan that would set a new more stringent rule for the amount of ozone pollution in the air. The proposal is based on new research on the health effects of ozone pollution.   

In fact, the EPA says if adopted, the new rule could prevent as many as 4,300 premature deaths nationwide in the next decade. But it has been met with controversy. Republicans and business groups say the positive health benefits are outweighed by the cost of complying with the new rule, some have gone as far as to call it “nearly impossible.”

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Drought
1:47 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Drought-Stricken Valley Town Gets Hot Showers

Gilberto Sandoval, 81, lives across the street from the church where the showers are installed.
Credit Ezra David Romro / Valley Public Radio

Drought conditions in parts of Central California have become so harsh that it’s normal to turn on the tap have no coming out.  A few months ago we brought you the story of East Porterville where more than 600 homes are without water because their household wells have dried up. Now, some of the town’s residents will have access to something they haven’t had in months. 

The last time Gilberto Sandoval took a warm shower was over a month ago.

“I’ve  been without running water for the last three months,” Sandoval says. “ No water whatsoever.”

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Environment
11:20 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Water Levels In California's Reservoirs Continue To Drop

Pine Flat Lake east of Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The water in some of California’s major reservoirs is nearing historic lows. The Department of Water Resources says statewide, all reservoirs are currently holding about 57 percent of their historic norms.

But levels are dropping significantly in some of the major reservoirs. Maury Roos, is the Chief Hydrologist with DWR. He says the Lake Oroville Reservoir is near the lowest level it’s ever been.

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Environment
5:21 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Pipeline Owner To Stop Paying Temporary Housing For Arvin Residents

One of the eight homes evacuated in March on Nelson Court.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Arvin residents who were forced out of their homes in March because of a toxic gas leak are now facing a new dilemma. This time it's dealing with housing. 

The oil company that owns the leaking pipeline told eight Arvin families on Tuesday that they will stop paying for their temporary housing at the end of this month. 

That means residents will either have to return home or pay out of pocket to live elsewhere.

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Environment
3:57 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

“Artist” Defaces National Parks With Graffiti Paintings, Including Yosemite

Overlooking Crater Lake
Credit Courtesy of Modern Hiker

    

It’s been said that our national parks are treasures that belong to all Americans. In recent weeks one artist has been on a nationwide quest documenting her travels to these locations of immense natural beauty. And like many she shared photos of her journey online, from Zion and Bryce Canyon to Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon. 

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Environment
3:23 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Seven Months After Gas Leak Arvin Residents Still Can't Return Home

Yesenia Lara stands outside her home on Nelson Court, one of the eight homes evacuated back in March because of a gas leak.
Diana Aguilera Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year eight Kern County families were forced out of their homes because of a gas leak. Now, seven months later families are still asking questions about their health and when they can return to their neighborhood.

When Yesenia Lara bought her home three years ago she never imagined living there would eventually bring so much anger and sadness to her family.

"This is my house, esta es mi casa. Excuse the mess but I hardly come here."

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Drought
5:13 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

California Tomato Growers Expect Record Year Despite Drought

California tomatoes are loaded into a processing plant. (file photo)
Credit California Tomato Growers Association

The drought has California farmers leaving thousands of acres fallow this year. But growers still chose to plant processing tomatoes. And as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they’re expected to have a record year.

About 95 percent of the nation’s processed tomatoes come from California. Last year, about 12 million tons were produced. Some farmers this year were skeptical they could grow the 14 million tons contracted for by the state’s processors.

But Mike Montna with the California Tomato Growers Association says they hit that mark.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Photographing Bakersfield, "A Thick Brown Film Hanging Over Town"

Yareli Gonzalez, 7, suffers from asthma and receives two nebulizer treatments per day, indefinitely. Gonzalez lives in Shafter, a rural town in Kern County, California where 20 percent of area children are diagnosed with asthma due to polluted air.
Lexey Swall

Last month, the editors of Time Magazine featured an online piece about the community which they say has the worst air in the nation - Bakersfield.

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Environment
6:23 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Proposal Could Raise The Cost Of A Yosemite Visit

Yosemite National Park (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A visit to Yosemite National Park may soon become more expensive. On Monday the park service announced a plan to raise the single vehicle entry fee from $20 dollars to $30 for a seven day pass. The cost of an annual pass would also rise from $40 to $60. 

The proposal would also raise campsite fees, and the cost for hikers and motorcyclists:

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Drought
5:19 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

California Drought To Persist, Even Worsen

Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

Predictions suggest the California drought is likely to persist, and even worsen in some areas. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says complete drought recovery is "unlikely this winter' in California.

Kevin Werner is NOAA's Western Region Climate Director.

He says the 2012-to-2014 period is the driest on record in California.

And low reservoir storage reflects that.

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Drought
4:31 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Private Well Failures Spike In Tulare County

Each red dot on this map represents one household with a dry well in Tulare County.
Credit Tulare County Office Of Emergency Services

The drought in Central California has hit many farmers and homeowners hard. Perhaps those hardest hit are in Tulare County where the number of dry wells spiked this week. 

New data released today from the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services reports the number of private well failures in the county grew by 19 percent since October 6.

Andrew Lockman with the agency says the increase is due to more homeowners reporting dry wells and new data from partnering agencies.

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Wildfire
2:10 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Cal Fire Air Tankers Cleared To Fly After Yosemite Crash

File photo
Credit Twitter.com / CAL FIRE PIO Kevin Berlant / https://twitter.com/CALFIRE_PIO

Cal Fire's fleet of 22 firefighting air tankers are back in service. The planes were on a safety stand down after a tanker crash this week in Yosemite National Park. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Tuesday crash killed pilot Geoffrey Hunt as he was about to drop retardant on the Dog Rock Fire near Yosemite's west entrance.

The safety stand-down was intended to give officials time to inspect the remaining aircraft and allow other pilots time to recover.

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott:

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Fracking
6:41 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

California Makes Changes To Fracking Regulations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The state of California is making some changes to its new fracking regulations based on nearly 100,000  comments from the public. This is the third version of the regulations for fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals underground to release oil.

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