environment

Much Of California's Emergency Drought Relief Money Still Unspent

Jul 7, 2014
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.”

As Drought Worsens, Fresno Turns Attention To Wastewater

Jul 2, 2014
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.

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.

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.” 

California Assembly Committee Passes Groundwater Rules Bill

Jun 25, 2014
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.

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. 

Senate Rejects Alternate Water Bond; Brown To Weigh In?

Jun 23, 2014
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.

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

Jun 16, 2014
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.

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.

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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Lawmakers Get Pressured To Act On Water Bond

Jun 10, 2014
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.

California Officials Developing Groundwater Management Plans

Jun 10, 2014
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

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.

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.

Fresno Area Homeowners Dig Deep When Wells Go Dry

May 26, 2014
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.

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.

California Water Managers May Limit River Water Diversion For Crops

May 21, 2014
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.

California Department of Public Health

 

After 6 years, the state of California has approved the expansion of a toxic waste landfill near Kettleman City. The decision will allow the landfill to expand by 50%, or 5 million cubic yards, which owners at Waste Management Incorporated estimate will last about 8 years.

Jim Marxen is a spokesperson for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Report Casts Doubt On Potential Of Monterey Shale Oil Production

May 21, 2014

An anticipated oil boom in California may be delayed a bit, if it happens at all. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on some new estimates published today that could dampen the state’s fracking future.

Fracking is an oil extraction process that involves pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into rock. It had been estimated California may be able to recover more than 13 billion barrels of Monterey Shale oil.

Report: Drought Won't Hurt California Economy

May 20, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s drought may have a lot of negative consequences, but a new report out today says the state’s economy won’t be one of them. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The report from Moody’s Investors Service finds, short term, California’s economy won’t suffer as a result of the drought. It finds the state’s reliance on income taxes and sales taxes will largely provide a buffer. H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance, agrees the state’s economy has weathered the drought so far. 

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