environment

Environment
6:34 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Report: Groundwater Management Plans Need Significant Improvement

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

A new report finds local water agencies need to do a better job managing groundwater in California. Amy Quinton has the details from Sacramento.

The California Water Foundation looked at 120 groundwater management plans adopted by local water agencies. In a nutshell, the results aren’t good. Almost 30 percent were written in 2002 or earlier. Many lacked objectives and an implementation strategy.

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Drought
6:08 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Forecasters: El Nino Not Likely To Help Ease Drought

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter.
National Weather Service

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter. And, as Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento, the drought is expected to continue next year.

National Weather Service forecasters say the chance of El Niño is about 70 percent during the Northern Hemisphere this summer and is close to 80 percent during the fall and early winter.

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Government & Politics
6:01 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Referendum On Fresno Water Rate Hike Qualifies For November Ballot

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno voters may soon get a chance to overturn the City Council's planned hikes in water rates.

Fresno City Clerk Yvonne Spence confirmed today that a referendum petition submitted in late June has over 5,500 valid signatures--more than enough to put Measure W on the ballot.

The measure aims to allow voters to overturn a water plan approved last summer by the Council.  The plan would on average double water rates over the next 3 years in order to fund a $410 million upgrade to the city's water system. 

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Drought
5:42 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Much Of California's Emergency Drought Relief Money Still Unspent

California water managers are selectively watering parts of the state Capitol grounds to preserve historic trees while letting grassy areas dry out.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s been four months since Governor Jerry Brown signed what he and Democratic lawmakers called “emergency drought legislation.” It promised nearly $700 million in immediate drought relief. But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, nearly 90 percent of that money has yet to be spent.

It was late February when Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced – with great fanfare – emergency drought legislation.

Brown: “What needs to be done will be done – and is being done.”

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Environment
10:13 am
Wed July 2, 2014

As Drought Worsens, Fresno Turns Attention To Wastewater

In the aeration basins, microorganisms break down organic material. This is part of the secondary treatment process.
Marnette Federis Capital Public Radio

Jim Quist farms 700 acres next to the one of the most secure water sources in Fresno County.

“It might be providence," Quist says, about what brought his grandfather to the property in 1933. 

A portion of Quist's irrigation water was once raw sewage. Quist’s farm is just across the road from the City of Fresno’s wastewater treatment plant. It’s been giving him water for 50 years.

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Environment
12:51 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Bakersfield Man Recalls Kayak Trip From Kern County To SF Bay, 30 Years Later

This month CNN journalist John D. Sutter is on a mission to kayak the San Joaquin River from Fresno to San Francisco Bay. We spoke with him last week on Valley Edition as he seeks to document the stories along what has been called America's most endangered river.

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Environment
12:23 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

On Yosemite's 150th Anniversary, Mariposa Grove Takes Center Stage

Monday marked the 150th anniversary of the land grant that established what we know now as Yosemite National Park. On June 30, 1864 in the middle of the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln signed an act “authorizing a grant to the State of California of the Yo-Semite Valley, and of the land embracing the Mariposa Big Tree Grove.” 

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Environment
10:45 am
Wed June 25, 2014

California Assembly Committee Passes Groundwater Rules Bill

Credit California Department of Water Resources

Local California water agencies would be able to establish rules governing groundwater use for the first time under a bill that passed an Assembly committee Tuesday. 

Backers of the bill say years of ground water over-pumping has led to wells drying up around the state and has also depleted surface water supplies. Maurice Hall is with the Nature Conservancy.

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Environment
10:57 am
Tue June 24, 2014

CNN Journalist Aims To Kayak San Joaquin River From Fresno To San Francisco

CNN's John D. Sutter is on a quest to kayak the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam near Fresno to San Francisco Bay.
Credit John D. Sutter / Twitter http://twitter.com/jdsutter

Journalist John D. Sutter is on a quest to do something that many valley residents do, kayak on the San Joaquin River. But instead of going for a short trip from Lost Lake Park to Highway 41, he has a much longer journey in mind - Friant Dam all the way to San Francisco Bay. 

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Water
7:48 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Senate Rejects Alternate Water Bond; Brown To Weigh In?

Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) asks her colleagues to support her water bond proposal in Monday's Senate floor debate.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California water bond negotiations are entering a critical stretch. Time is growing short to replace the current $11 billion measure on the November ballot. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, one proposal failed a key test vote Monday.

Typically, water politics break down along regional lines. But this vote fell on party lines. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk argued that her proposal stands the best chance of passing the legislature this summer – and winning voter approval this fall.

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Environment
6:35 am
Mon June 16, 2014

The 'Deepest Straw Wins' In Central Valley Scramble For Groundwater

Ruth Griffin says she spent her life savings building her dream home in Kingsburg, California. But she can't move in because her private well is dry.
Marnette Federis Capital Public Radio

  The California drought is becoming a source of tension between homeowners and farmers in the Southern Central Valley. Farmers are seeing unprecedented reductions in their allotments to surface water. Homeowners are watching their private wells run dry. Pauline Bartolone has more about how people in the Fresno area are tapping into underground water.  

The home where Ruth Griffin planned to retire looks like it’s an island in a sea of almond orchards.

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Environment
5:06 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Lawsuit Filed Over Proposal For Delta Water Transfers

Delta smelt, one of the endangered species at home in the Delta.
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

 

A coalition of environmental groups announced Wednesday that it is suing the Bureau of Reclamation over its proposal to send water from northern California to farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

The water transfers would involve pumping over 175,000 acre-feet of water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, home to the endangered delta smelt and other fragile aquatic species.

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Health
12:38 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Healthy Rivers: Will Wealthy Fresnans Block Access On The San Joaquin?

The entrance of the proposed Highway 41 point of access.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

This is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

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Drought
10:47 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Lawmakers Get Pressured To Act On Water Bond

Pine Flat dam near Fresno on the Kings River (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are debating whether to put a scaled-down water bond on the November ballot. And as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, a rally at the Capitol Monday demonstrated the increasing pressure on the legislature as it wades through a number of bond proposals.

Business, agriculture and environmental leaders gathered under the blazing sun, in front the brown Capitol lawn to express the dire need for a water bond. Bryce Lundberg is a rice farmer and a member of the North State Water Alliance. His group has some criteria they’d like to see included in a bond.

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Drought
10:39 am
Tue June 10, 2014

California Officials Developing Groundwater Management Plans

Credit California Department of Water Resources

California state officials are working on a five-year plan they hope will lead to better local management of underground water supplies. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The state says groundwater levels are in alarming decline – and that must be reversed. In times of drought, more water is pulled from the ground. A number of government agencies are generating a five-year plan to make sure that over years of use and replenishment, there’s adequate supply of groundwater

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Environment
1:10 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Dry Conditions Spur Rapid Spread of Hunters Fire

Credit Cal Fire

In the late afternoon on Memorial Day, a wildfire touched off in rural Mariposa County.  Just two days later, the so-called Hunters Fire has engulfed 1300 acres and destroyed two homes.

Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, says fires this time of year aren't unusual--but ones that travel so fast are.

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Author Interviews
12:20 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

New Book Documents Hetch Hetchy's Demise, Possible Rebirth

This past weekend thousands of people made the trek to Yosemite Valley from around the world to marvel at the majesty of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and Half Dome.

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Environment
4:11 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Fresno Area Homeowners Dig Deep When Wells Go Dry

Credit Valley Public Radio

Many people who live in the Fresno area say water isn’t flowing from their taps like it used to. Some households using private groundwater wells are finding the water table is falling below their pumps during the drought.  Pauline Bartolone visited the people in Fresno they call when the water runs out. 

Arthur and Orum drills new water wells for farmers and homeowners in the Fresno area. The company’s Kim Hammond says phones have been ringing off the hook.

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The Salt
1:10 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

California's Drought Isn't Making Food Cost More. Here's Why

Farmworkers pull weeds from a field of lettuce near Gonzales, Calif. Salinas Valley farms like this one rely on wells, which haven't been affected much by the drought.
George Rose Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 1:48 pm

The entire state of California is in a severe drought. Farmers and farmworkers are hurting.

You might expect this to cause food shortages and higher prices across the country. After all, California grows 95 percent of America's broccoli, 81 percent of its carrots and 99 percent of the country's artichokes, almonds and walnuts, among other foods.

Yet there's been no sign of a big price shock. What gives?

Here are three explanations.

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Drought
6:22 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

California Water Managers May Limit River Water Diversion For Crops

California water officials are considering new rules this week that may prohibit some California farmers from diverting river water to irrigate their crops. (file photo of Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

Some California farmers may not be allowed to divert river water to irrigate their crops this summer. The restriction is part of new rules being considered this week by state water managers.

Some members of the Water Resources Control board say suspending water rights is an unavoidable temporary emergency measure caused by the drought.

Felicia Marcus Chairs the Board, and says any limits on water rights should be clearly explained, and narrow in scope.

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