environment

Drought
11:29 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Johnson: Ditch The Blame Game In California's Drought

Nathanael Johnson's op-ed in the LA Times
Credit 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. 

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Drought
5:28 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

California Water Regulators Agree To Cutback Program For Farmers

file photo
Credit 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.

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Drought
2:52 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Poll Shows Wide Support For Water Conservation

California's drought has reservoirs's like Shaver Lake in Fresno County at low levels (file photo)
Credit 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.

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Drought
12:28 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Water Board Considers Voluntary Water Cut From Delta Area Farmers

file photo
Credit 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.

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Environment
12:42 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Drought May Mean The End For Some Native Fish

One of five Delta smelt found during the latest trawl by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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.

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All Tech Considered
1:50 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Why California Farmers Are Conflicted About Using Less Water

Tanimura & Antle workers use tractors to install drip tape into fields that will be used to grow lettuce and other crops in California's Salinas Valley.
Aarti Shahani NPR

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 12:39 pm

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.

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Drought
1:16 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Brown Defends Delta Tunnels Project, Agriculture Industry

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Association of California Water Agencies conference Wednesday in Sacramento.
Credit 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.

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Environment
3:41 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Brown Revises Bay Delta Water Plan, Faces Criticism

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.

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Drought
12:05 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

New Brown Drought Proposals: Larger Penalties, Faster Environmental Reviews

Gov. Jerry Brown announces his latest proposals in response to the drought at the state Capitol Tuesday, after meeting with mayors of 14 California cities.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 If you’re caught wasting water in California, the most you can be fined right now is $500. Governor Jerry Brown wants to raise the maximum penalty to 20 times that amount. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on the governor’s latest drought response proposal.

Brown wants to raise the maximum fine to $10,000 per water violation. He also wants to give cities, counties and water agencies the authority to issue fines without going through the courts.

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Drought
3:24 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Not Ready To Give Up Your Lawn? Landscapers Offer Drought Tips

file photo
Credit Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

If you're watering your lawn at all, there's a good chance you're watering it too much. That's the take-away at a drought workshop near Sacramento for landscaping professionals. Lesley McClurg attended the class sponsored by the Department of Water Resources.

Tom Noonan is water management specialist. He says calibrating sprinklers can be a complicated science. 

But, the bottom line is...

Noonan: "Get rid of run-off and get rid of over spray." 

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Environment
11:36 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Delta Smelt Collapse Part Of Drought's Toll On California

Delta smelt (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The latest survey of California's endangered Delta Smelt has turned up just one fish. While the population has been in decline for years, UC Davis biologist Peter Moyle says the drought has stressed the species to the brink of extinction. 

Moyle: "I've been tracking these fish for years including in my own surveys, and we've been seeing this long term decline, but still I was quite startled."

He blames a number of factors for the almost complete collapse, but says the drought is a big factor.

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Government & Politics
7:05 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Slow Progress In Congressional Water Talks

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. As Kitty Felde reports from Washington, Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home.

Drought relief legislation this year has gotten off to a slow start on Capitol Hill - unlike last year, when bills were floated in both the House and the Senate.

Mendota Mayor Robert Silva, who spent the week meeting with members of Congress, says things are moving…underground. 

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Environment
5:27 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Tensions Appear Amidst Dwindling Water Supply

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown says it’s time for California to pull together to get through the drought. It’s a message aimed at people with competing water needs. And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that’s created some tension.

There are more than 400 local water agencies In California. There are also agriculture, business and environmental interests. And as the drought continues they are all competing for a dwindling resource.

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Government & Politics
4:40 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Fresno City Council Says 'No' To Farmland Preservation Project

Fresno City Hall - file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has rejected a proposal to move forward with an effort to preserve area farmland from development.

The council voted down the proposed grant application today to start a farmland preservation program, which is key part of the city’s newly adopted general plan.

The program would require developers to offset the loss of farmland from urbanization by agreeing to preserve farmland elsewhere.

Council member Lee Brand says he wants more public input before committing to such a program.

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Agriculture
3:18 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Almond Rush Raises Tough Questions During Dry Times

Almond Orchard near Newman, California
Credit Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

Conveyer belts carry millions of kernels through sorting machines in a giant processing plant in the western San Joaquin Valley near Newman, California.      

Jim Jasper: “So the almonds go in there.”

Jim Jasper is the president of Stewart and Jasper Orchards.

Jim Jasper: “We can speed this up… we can slow it down…”

Last year the facility hulled and shelled more than 40 million pounds of almonds -- most of which were headed overseas.

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Environment
1:06 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Brown Issues Mandatory Water Conservation Order For California

Gov. Jerry Brown announces mandatory water conservation requirements for California near Lake Tahoe Wednesday, at a site that on April 1st in a typical year averages five feet of snow.
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

For the first time in the state's history, a governor of California is imposing mandatory water restrictions.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday that mandates a 25 percent cut in urban, potable water use in cities and towns from now through next February.

He announced the action near Lake Tahoe, after watching the state Department of Water Resources conduct a survey that showed the Sierra snowpack at a record-low five percent of normal for April 1st.

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Drought
5:04 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Brown Signs Drought Legislation, Calls For Conservation

Governor Jerry Brown has signed two bills that he and California lawmakers say will help the state endure its fourth year of drought.

The billion-dollar aid package moved through the Legislature within a week of its announcement by the governor and leading lawmakers from both parties.

But Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler says there isn’t much in this legislation that will tangibly help Californians survive another dry year.

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Drought
11:26 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Poll: Californians Say Their Neighbors Need To Do More In Drought

Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A new poll shows deep concern among Californians over the state’s drought and future water supply. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

The Public Policy Institute of California survey shows two-thirds of adults believe the water supply in their region is a big problem. The same percentage also say people where they live aren’t doing enough to respond to the drought. And Californians are just as likely to name the drought as the state’s most urgent issue as they are to cite the economy.

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Water
10:26 am
Wed March 25, 2015

New State Office Could Help Poor Valley Communities Get Clean Drinking Water

Credit Valley Public Radio

The emergency drought relief bill that California lawmakers will begin voting on Wednesday would create a new state office. That might sound fairly mundane. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, supporters say it could help disadvantaged communities.

Clean water advocates will tell you that it can sometimes take decades for small or poor communities to get clean drinking water. Laurel Firestone is with the Community Water Center.

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Government & Politics
10:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

More Money For Drought Aid, But No Mandatory Conservation

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses new emergency drought legislation at a Capitol news conference Thursday, joined by Democratic and Republican leaders.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders aren’t calling for any mandatory water conservation in this fourth year of drought. Instead, they’re offering emergency drought aid for a second straight year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state has yet to spend nearly half of last year’s emergency drought money.

The governor did not announce any new water conservation rules. But he hinted that day might come soon if the rain does not.

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