environment

Friant Water Authority

While a major “atmospheric river” storm system is expected to pummel Central California with historic amounts of rain and snow this weekend, there’s one place you won’t find floodwater: the Friant Kern Canal.

The Friant Water Authority says the 152 mile canal, that carries water from Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River near Fresno all the way to Kern County has been shut down since late last year for maintenance and construction. 

This weekend’s storm could be good news for valley farmers, who hope they’ll be able to store some of the anticipated runoff.

Ara Azhderian is the water policy administrator for the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which represents 29 water contractors that use the San Luis Reservoir. He says the outlook for 2017 is already good.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

After decades of complaints from residents, a vote this week by the Fresno City Council could signal what some think is a new direction for southwest Fresno. The city is considering a new specific plan that will guide the future of the 3,000 acre neighborhood west of Highway 99 and south of Highway 180. At its heart is a goal to remake the area, and reduce pollution by telling big industrial facilities to move elsewhere.   

When she was a little girl, Kimberly McCoy lived near some of the heavy industry that marks parts of southwest Fresno.

Ezra David Romero

Let's face it. America loves giant sequoia trees. Native Americans believe they hold spiritual value, early settlers tried to exploit the trees and today the trees adorn the National Park Service's badge. 

In a new book called "King Sequoia: The Tree That Inspired a Nation, Created Our National Park System, and Changed the Way We Think about Nature" author William C. Tweed weaves together a narrative of human contact with the big trees. He outlines who tried to exploit them and eventually what it took to protect them. 

A California enters its sixth year of drought, journalist Charles Fishman says that residents aren't doing nearly enough to adapt to the "new normal" in a state that is becoming increasingly dry. Fishman, who is the author of the book "The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water" is speaking in Bakersfield on Thursday October 27th at the CSUB Icardo Center at 7:00 PM as part of the culminating event of the One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern community read. 

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition Reporter Kerry Klein takes a look at methane emitted from dairy farms in Central California and how it plays into climate change. We also hear from KVPR's Jeffrey Hess about cap and trade in Fresno. Later we hear from Author Miriam Pawel on Cal Humanties upcoming forum "Farmworker Movement in California: From Chavez Onwards." Ending the show we  hear from Steven Wilson with the Fresno Philharmonic about the upcoming season and their search for a new conductor. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The State of California is promising to spend an unprecedented amount of new money investing in Fresno. The state is planning tens of millions of dollars from its cap and trade funds.

Governor Jerry Brown is recommending spending $70 million of cap and trade money in Fresno.

The funds come from pollution credits and are set aside to aid the most heavily polluted and poor areas.

The City of Fresno expects to get half of all the climate change money that the state has designated for those communities.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Valley Air District is asking the federal government to do more to help clean up the air in Central California. 

The district has submitted a petition to the U.S. EPA asking the agency to adopt more stringent national standards for cleaner trucks and trains.

The district’s executive director Seyed Sadredin says despite on-going local efforts to reduce ozone and particulate pollution, meeting the newest federal health standards would require reducing fossil fuel emissions by another 90 percent. And that he says isn’t something the district can’t do alone.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Residents of Bakersfield breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation, thanks to a confluence of vehicle exhaust, industrial operations, and stagnant valley air. In an effort to combat pollution, air quality advocates are now targeting a potential source of emissions that, at the moment, is not even operating.

Ride your bike along the Kern River just west of downtown Bakersfield, and you pass joggers and people walking dogs. To one side of the trail, families play Frisbee golf in the grass. To the other side, a symbol of Kern County’s economy looms silently.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

The state estimates that over a million Californians lack access to safe drinking water. After 15 years with arsenic contamination, one small Kern County community took the struggle for clean water into its own hands--in a campaign that could serve as a role model for others.

It’s recess at El Camino Real Elementary School in Arvin and the courtyard is packed. Kids play tag and tetherball, and laughter echoes throughout the yard.

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