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Environment

News about energy and the environment

Visitors to Yosemite leave behind 2,200 tons of garbage per year. That is equal to 3,919 dumpsters full of trash.
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park has a trash problem. The more than 4 million people who visit every year and those that live in Yosemite leave 2,200 tons of garbage there annually. The park service is working to decrease the amount of that trash that ends up in the Mariposa County Landfill.

To find out more about the park’s Zero Landfill Initiative, FM89’s Ezra David Romero  interviewed Yosemite National Park Ranger Jodi Bailey and Wildlife Biologist Caitlin Lee-Roney. Listen to that interview by clicking play above. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

A major scandal rocked the auto industry two years ago when it was discovered that the car company Volkswagen had been systematically cheating on diesel emissions tests. That scandal might soon turn into a big boon for electric cars in the Central Valley.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California farmers and environmental justice leaders are joining forces to support a bill that would help fund a clean drinking water program.

From Keith Pickett’s front yard just east of Bakersfield you can see the trees of where the official city begins. He’s on the board of a tiny water system with less than 30 homes. It’s called the East Wilson Road Water Company and the water he’s washing his dishes with is polluted with nitrates.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

During a visit to Fresno Tuesday, Speaker of the California Assembly Anthony Rendon highlighted one key aspect of the Temperance Flat Dam proposal that could give it a boost over other water storage projects.

While not specifically favoring one project over another, Rendon says the potential dam and reservoir has a key quality the other proposed mega project does not…location.

Kern River Outfitters

This summer we've been on the river a lot. Floating, some kayaking and well a lot of sunbathing. Rivers in Central California have been amazing this summer. They’ve been really high the past few months because of the record snowfall in the Sierra this winter. That’s generally a good thing, but it has made for some dangerous conditions.

 

A new study published this month suggests that parts of the world recovering from droughts are taking longer and longer to bounce back.

"Time between drought events will likely become shorter than the time needed for land ecosystems to recover from them," says co-author Christopher Schwalm of Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Massachusetts in a press release.

Wildfires have always been a part of the Central California landscape. But in recent years blazes like the Detwiler Fire (2017) and the Erskine Fire (2016) have been different. In each case, veteran firefighters who have been on wildland blazes for decades say they saw the fires demonstrating "extreme" behavior like they haven't seen before. They burned hotter, faster, and didn't die down at night as fires typically do. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Oil companies in California produce more water than oil. In the San Joaquin Valley that also has created a problem: what to do with all of that unwanted water? In most cases that wastewater is injected back into the ground, deep below the aquifer. But in some cases, injections may have contaminated federally protected aquifers that could be clean enough for drinking water.

Friant Water Authority

As of July 10 manual snow surveyors reported there’s zero snow left in the mountains above the San Joaquin River. But a new way to measure the snowpack from the sky is showing a different set of results.

“Already we’re seeing snowmelt 50 percent greater than it was last year and about 320 percent above what the observations were for 2014.” says Jeffrey Payne with the Friant Water Authority.

Friant Water Authority

A section of the the Friant-Kern Canal in Tulare County is sinking so much that it's lost about 60 percent of its flow.

Doug DeFlitch with the Friant Water Authority says the canal that helps irrigate a million acres of farmland has sunk two to three feet in some places over about a 25 mile area. The original design capacity in the area is about 4,000 cubic feet per second and he says it’s dropped to 1,600 cfs. 

Kern County Public Health Dept

Fourteen farm workers in Kern County have been treated for exposure to a chemical after a presumed case of pesticide drift early this morning near Bakersfield. Kern County Public Health officials say the incident took place near Gosford Road and Taft Highway. The source of the pesticide is not known, but an adjacent field had been treated with a soil fumigant just yesterday. Kern County fire and hazardous materials teams also responded and treated workers who were exposed to the chemicals.

NOAASatellites YouTube

While crews fought to keep the Detwiler Fire in California’s Central Valley from reaching the historic gold rush town of Mariposa, a separate fire crew was watching the blaze from an entirely different angle - space.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Residents around Mariposa are picking up the pieces left behind in the wake of the Detwiler Fire. For many, that means returning to homes damaged or completely destroyed by the fast moving blaze.

This week Valley Public Radio spoke with a wide range of people who were affected in some way by the fire to find out how they are feeling and what their plans are going forward.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Lost in the coverage of the extension of California's cap-and-trade system is another bill that aims to reduce local air pollution in communities like the San Joaquin Valley. AB-617 aims to increase oversight of major stationary sources of pollution that are also regulated by cap-and-trade. Under the law, the state will now make public more data on pollution sources, and local air districts will be required to develop plans to bring these facilities into compliance with the latest available emission control technology.

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