environment

Drought
4:45 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

In Mariposa County, 3,200 People May Soon Run Out Of Water

Low water levels in Lake McClure have area residents concerned.
Mike Jenson Merced Irrigation District

A California community that sits between two large reservoirs is running out of water. About 3,200 people in the Sierra Nevada foothill enclave of Lake Don Pedro rely on water from nearby Lake McClure. But the lake level is dangerously low. That’s forcing the community to find another supply. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, so far it’s come up dry.

The Lake Don Pedro community is operating in emergency mode.  For the last several weeks, work crews have drilled well after well, hoping to find groundwater.

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Drought
4:51 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Despite Drought, Some Experts Say It's Too Soon For Drastic Measures

Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

As the California drought wears on, it might seem like more creative solutions are in order. But as Capital Public Radio’s Katie Orr found out it might not yet be time for drastic measures. 

Here in California it can be frustrating to see the East Coast and Midwest buried in snow while the west remains bone dry. But the news can be hard to avoid. 

Snow piling up so high, cities are struggling to get rid of it, while the west remains stormless. Seems like a waste. Surly there’s a way some of that extra snow can be moved to where it’s needed.

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Environment
5:37 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

State Hearing On Oil Waste Injections Into Aquifers Asks 'What Went Wrong?'

An oil well in Kern County, near Taft (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Two senate committees water and the environment held a joint hearing Tuesday in Sacramento focusing on the potential contamination of federally protected aquifers by oil producers. 

The state's Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources had allowed production companies to inject oil field waste water into some aquifers that the EPA says could be used for drinking water. The revelation has resulted in the shutdown of 23 wells, slowing production in Kern County. 

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Drought
2:50 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Big Businesses Weighing In On California Drought

file photo
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

As the California drought stretches into its fourth year, the business community wants to have a say in how water is managed. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on a new collaboration announced today.

Companies including Coca-Cola, General Mills and KB Home say they want a greater voice in how the state manages water. The group says it will monitor implementation of the recently passed water bond and ground water legislation. It will also encourage conservation and recycling at the local level.

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Drought
6:19 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

California Water Conservation Rate Drops As Does Water Content in Snow

file photo
Credit John Chacon / CA Dept of Water Resources

California’s water supply continues to diminish. The water content in the Sierra snowpack is the worst it’s been this time of year since 1991. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, water conservation rates are equally dismal, dropping dramatically in January.

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Agriculture
3:40 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Valley Farmers Face Second Year With No Federal Water Allocation

The Friant Kern Canal was nearly empty for much of 2014 after a zero percent allocation to east valley farmers served by the CVP.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The US Bureau of Reclamation says most farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will face a second year with no water from the Central Valley Project.

Ron Milligan is Operations Manager for the CVP. He says low reservoir storage is only part of the reason for the “zero allocation”.

Milligan:  “We’ve accumulated probably less than average snow for the month of February so we anticipate unfortunately the March 1 snow surveys are going to be probably even less fruitful then they were in February.”

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Government & Politics
6:24 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Salas Bill Would Help Homeowners Rip Out Lawns

A drought-resistant garden in the Central Valley. (file photo)
Credit Central Valley Friendly Landscaping Website - http://ucanr.edu/sites/cvlandscape/ / University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

It might become a little easier to replace your lawn with artificial grass if a new bill in Sacramento becomes law. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says he wants to take the model the state has used to subsidize solar power on homes across the state and apply it to another green project – removing lawns.

Salas introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide a tax credit to homeowners who remove their lawns and replace them either with drought-resistant landscaping or synthetic lawns.

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Environment
11:03 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Efforts To Restore Spring-Run Salmon On San Joaquin River Move Ahead

Friant Dam (file photo)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

State and federal fish and wildlife agencies will take a significant step today in restoring what was once the largest salmon run in California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, thousands of hatchery-raised spring-run Chinook salmon will be released into the San Joaquin River.

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Agriculture
10:04 am
Tue February 17, 2015

California Ranchers Are Bouncing Back, But Still Feel Effects of Drought

Jim Gates with Nevada County Free Range Beef in Grass Valley
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

California ranchers are bouncing back after the drought forced many of them to sell their livestock last winter. The lack of rain stopped the grass from growing, and buying enough feed became too costly.  

This year, Capital Public Radio's Amy Quinton returned to the ranches she visited in 2014 to see how they’re doing and filed this report.

Jim Gates owns Nevada County Free Range Beef and was hit hard by the drought last year. 

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Environment
4:42 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Central Valley Gets Millions For Drought Relief

The Friant Kern Canal is part of the Central Valley Project (file photo)
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The Federal government is giving California’s Central Valley millions of dollars for drought relief. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on Friday's announcement. 

The US Bureau of Reclamation is allocating about $30 million for the Central Valley Project, a water project which stretches 400 miles and provides enough water for a third of California’s farm land. The money will go toward drought monitoring, pumping projects and water efficiency efforts, among other things.

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Environment
12:07 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Research Project Will Help Scientists Understand Major California Storms

Forecasters with the National Weather Service are predicting that an "atmospheric river" will bring much needed rain to Northern California this weekend.
Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

 “Atmospheric rivers” play a huge role in determining California’s water supply. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a team of scientists is launching state-of-the-art equipment by land and sea to study the storms.

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Environment
6:12 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

California's Drought Worsens Uranium Pollution In Valley Wells

File photo
Credit John Chacon / CA Dept of Water Resources

California’s drought isn't just causing wells to go dry, it's also contributing to a long running water pollution problem.

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey looked at over 100 private domestic drinking water wells in the San Joaquin Valley. It found that around 1 in 4 had uranium levels above those considered safe by the EPA. Most of the wells were on the east side of the valley, which is home to sediment from the Sierra Nevada which naturally contains uranium.

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Environment
5:59 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Wildlife Agencies See Near Collapse Of 2014 Salmon Species

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California and federal wildlife agencies say the entire winter-run of naturally-spawning Chinook salmon may have collapsed in 2014. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the agencies will begin releasing triple the number of hatchery-raised juveniles next week.

High water temperatures in the Sacramento River last summer and fall caused 95-percent of winter-run salmon egg and fry to die.

Maria Rea: “I think this is really unprecedented really that we’ve seen this level of temperature mortality.”

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Environment
4:43 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Study: California Pesticde Assements Thorough, Slow

A strawberry field in California (file photo)
Credit Department of Pesticide Regulation - Facebook

The National Academy of Sciences released a report today on how the California Department of Pesticide Regulation assesses the safety of pesticides. It found that DPR assessments are thorough, but not very timely. It typically takes six to ten years. 

The report also says DPR needs to create a clearer process for ranking the hazard of pesticides and identifying which pesticides should take priority. Paul Tower with the Pesticide Action Network says the report confirms concerns the group has raised over the years.

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Agriculture
5:17 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

California Farmers Turn Sugar Beets Into Energy

Mendota Bioenergy aims to turn sugar beets into biofuel.
Credit Mendota Bioenergy

Struggling sugar beet farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are turning their crop into energy instead of sweetner. A pilot plant could prove to be good for the environment and the economy. 

They're called "energy beets." They look like a red table beet but, but they're larger, white, and very high in sucrose. Sugar beets in California date back to the late 1800's.

Kaffka: "Beets have been grown here commercially longer than any other place."

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Environment
5:26 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

New Grant Aims To Help Save Valley's Tricolored Blackbird

A Tricolored Blackbird (file photo)
Credit Linda Pittman / Audubon California

A federal grant announced today could give California dairy farmers incentive to help save the Tricolored Blackbird. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the population of the bird has plummeted in the last four years.

California’s Tricolored Blackbirds are found mainly in the southern San Joaquin Valley and often nest in fields where dairy farmers grow feed. Come harvest time, nestlings are often plowed under. That, combined with wetland loss and drought, has led to a population decline of 44 percent since 2011.

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Environment
7:30 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

California Air Regulators Eye Methane Emissions From Oil, Ag

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California's air regulators are increasingly turning their attention to a greenhouse gas that has largely gone overlooked - methane. 

According to the U.S. EPA, when it comes to climate change, methane emissions have an impact 20 times greater than CO2 emissions, pound for pound.

That's why Governor Jerry Brown singled out the gas during his inaugural address this month as part of his plan to combat climate change. 

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Environment
1:16 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Mary Nichols, California's Environmental "Rock Star" on Valley Edition

Mary Nichols is chair of the California Air Resources Board
Credit California Air Resources Board

The LA Times recently called Mary Nichols a “rock star.” In 2013 Time Magazine called her one of the 100 most influential people in the world and the Thomas Edison on environmentalism. She’s the chair of the California Air Resources Board, and if it has something to do with air quality or climate change in the state, she probably has something to say about it.

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Environment
6:05 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

California Tightens Rules On Popular Pesticide For Strawberries, Almonds

file photo
Credit Department of Pesticide Regulation - Facebook

California has announced stringent new rules on a common pesticide used in the production of strawberries, almonds, tomatoes, and peppers.

Chloropicrin is a fumigant that is used to treat the soil before crops are planted. The new rules are more stringent than those adopted by the U.S. EPA in 2012.

Under the new regulations from the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, farmers will be required to provide larger buffer zones when applying the chemical, and will be required to reduce the size of fields where it is applied.

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Fracking
5:32 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Independent Scientific Study On Fracking In California Released

The oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing is much different in California than in other states. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, that’s the finding of the first independent scientific assessment required under the state’s new fracking regulations.

California has shallow, vertical fracking wells that require about 140,000 gallons of water per well to extract oil. That’s millions of gallons less than other states. But the fluids contain more concentrated chemicals.

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