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.

Slow Progress In Congressional Water Talks

Apr 16, 2015
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. 

You may have heard by now that it takes one gallon of water to produce just one almond. And those are considered fighting words in drought-stricken California, which produces 80 percent of the world's supply of the tasty and nutritious nut.

So when almond grower Daniel Bays hears that, he just shakes his head.

Tensions Appear Amidst Dwindling Water Supply

Apr 9, 2015
Jerry Brown
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.

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.

Almond Rush Raises Tough Questions During Dry Times

Apr 7, 2015
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.

Brown Issues Mandatory Water Conservation Order For California

Apr 1, 2015
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.


Thousands of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep once called the Sierra Nevada home.  Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on the latest efforts in restoring the species to their natural habitat.

It’s a good day for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, which was thought to be extinct 100 years ago in Yosemite National Park. Two herds were relocated to Yosemite and Sequoia national parks this week from other parts of the Sierra.

Dana Dierkes is the spokesperson for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Brown Signs Drought Legislation, Calls For Conservation

Mar 27, 2015

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.

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

Mar 26, 2015
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.