environment

Water
5:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

First Snow Survey Of 2014 Just 20 Percent Of Average

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California's first snow survey of the winter is showing grim results for a state that's already reeling from a two-year dry spell. 

The State's Department of Water Resources says both manual and electronic readings today were about 20 percent of average for this time of year. In some cases surveyors found more bare ground than snow. 

In the Southern Sierra, the snowpack was a little better at 30 percent of average for the start of January, but just 10 percent of the April 1 season average.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

New Fracking Regulations Start January 1

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new law to regulate the controversial oil extraction process known as “fracking” goes into effect in California on January 1st. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

The oil industry says the new regulations will be some of the strictest in the nation. But some environmental groups that called for a moratorium on the process say the regulations don’t go far enough to protect water and air quality.

Under the law, oil companies will have to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process, although there are some limitations for trade secrets.

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Environment
5:06 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

San Joaquin River Restoration Hits Snags

Friant Dam's construction in the 1940's dried up 60 miles of the San Joaquin River
State Department of Water Resources

It’s been almost eight years since the US Bureau of Reclamation began its program to restore the San Joaquin River. In the 1940’s Friant Dam and irrigation diversion dried up 60 miles of California’s second largest river. Historic salmon runs disappeared. This January is the deadline for the program to restore enough water to the San Joaquin to eventually allow runs of Chinook salmon. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the restoration program has been plagued by delays and increased costs.

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Environment
11:49 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Author Interview: Jared Farmer "Trees In Paradise"

California has more trees now than at any time since the late Pleistocene. And it comes as no surprise to residents of the San Joaquin Valley that our cultivation of trees has played a defining role in shaping the California we know today.

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Health
4:34 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Earlimart Pesticide Warrior Honored For Advocacy

Teresa De Anda, of Earlimart, helped shine a light on the health impacts of pesticide drift. She's being honored by Fresno Metro Ministry.
Courtesy of Teresa De Anda

When you arrive at Teresa De Anda’s house on the edge of Earlimart, you might think the biggest health threat here is her pack of dogs. But from De Anda’s perspective, the almond orchard directly across the street, and the nearby vineyards and fields, are much more dangerous.

“It’s nice not having neighbors across the street, but it’s not nice having all the spraying and the tilling and the dirt and the bees,” De Anda says.

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Environment
5:24 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Feds Study Expanding San Luis Reservoir

Intake towers at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County would be raised under a new proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos could see its storage capacity grow by over 6 percent, according to a new study on the feasibility of expanding the lake released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

According to the draft report, a 20 foot increase in the height of the B.F. Sisk dam would result in 130,000 acre feet of additional water storage capacity. For comparison, that increase would be equal to about a quarter of the total capacity of Friant Dam near Fresno.

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Water
12:26 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Jim Costa Calls On Governor Brown To Issue Drought Declaration For California

Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno)
Credit Congress.gov

With forecasts pointing to the third dry year in a row, one Central Valley congressman is calling on the governor to take emergency action to secure more water for valley farmers. FM89's Joe Moore reports.

Speaking on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) says that California water users are facing possibly their biggest shortage in over three decades.

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Government & Politics
3:39 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Judge Blocks California High Speed Rail Financing

file photo
Credit Credit California High Speed Rail Authority / File Photo

 California’s High Speed Rail project may have stalled out in court. A judge ruled today the Rail Authority cannot sell $8 billion in bonds to help fund the project.

The judge also ordered the Authority to rewrite its $68 billion funding plan before moving forward with construction.

Jon Coupal is with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which opposes the project.

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Environment
6:29 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

That Sinking Feeling: Valley Land Subsidence Poses Problems for Water, High Speed Rail

The Delta Mendota Canal
www.usbr.gov

The U.S. Geological Survey released a study today showing that large groundwater withdrawals are causing land in California’s Central Valley to sink. A 1,200 square mile area is sinking up to a foot a year in some places. The situation has become so serious that it’s threatening flood control and water deliveries. The proposed high speed rail system will also have deal with the changing terrain. But Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, finding a solution won’t be easy.

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Environment
5:35 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Valley Air District Celebrates Cleanup Milestone, More Work Remains

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the decades-long effort to clean up the San Joaquin Valley's notoriously poor air, 2013 might be a milestone. For the first time, the air basin had zero violations of the hourly federal ozone standard.  

That news prompted the governing board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to vote Thursday to formally request that the EPA lift a required a $29 million annual penalty.

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Environment
12:11 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Peter Gleick: We Need To Know More About Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Credit Courtesy Peter Gleick

Peter Gleick is one of California's leading water experts. In an op-ed piece recently published in the Sacramento Bee, Gleick  criticized the draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for what he calls a lack of specificity.

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Environment
11:33 am
Tue November 12, 2013

San Joaquin River Restoration Brings Spawning Salmon Back to Fresno

A Chinook salmon swims in a tank at the Salmonfest event at Lost Lake Park in Friant.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

California is on course for what could be its driest year on record. Those were the sobering words from scientists with the National Weather Service in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle. And after two dry years, the relative lack of rain and snow is putting a great strain on the state's precious water resources. 

But there's another big water story in our backyard - the restoration of the San Joaquin River. 

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Environment
7:56 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Central Valley Project Reservoirs Lowest Since 2009

Friant Dam, part of the Central Valley Project on the San Joaquin River near Fresno
Credit State Department of Water Resources

Six key reservoirs of the federal Central Valley Project are at the lowest levels since 2009, when the state was officially in a drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some farmers are expecting zero-percent water allocations in 2014.

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The Moral Is
9:09 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Commentary: It's Not Too Late For Americans To Rekindle The Flame of Science

Madhusudan Katti
Credit Madhusudan Katti

America was once the scientific “City on the Hill”, investing its resources and its capital to improve the world’s physical, social and cultural infrastructure.  But in the 21st century America seems to have lost its moral compass in this regard.  In this week’s edition of The Moral Is, Fresno State Biology Professor Madhusudan Katti calls on all Americans to rekindle the commitment that for so long maintained America’s scientific dominance that served humanity so well.

This is a peculiar moment to be a scientist in America.

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Environment
6:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

California's Toxic Waste Control Department Tries to Clean Itself Up

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Californians produce two million tons of hazardous waste every year. And the department that manages that waste has faced criticism for the way it operates. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on the department’s efforts to clean up its act.

When a business is dealing with toxic waste in what’s considered a potentially risky way it must get a permit from California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control. There are currently 118 permitted facilities in the state that treat, store or dispose of toxic waste.

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California’s Delta: Inside and Out
6:00 am
Fri October 18, 2013

California Water Series Part 5: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan: A Solution for the Future?

Sandhill cranes
Department of Water Resources

Supporters say the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is one of the most ambitious habitat restoration programs California has ever attempted. But its proposal to build two tunnels to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to central and southern California has also become one of the most controversial.

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High Speed Rail
3:30 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

High-Speed Rail CEO: No Construction Yet, But Work "Under Way"

A rendering of the state's planned high speed trail.
California High Speed Rail Authority

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority is asking contractors that want to build the second stretch of Central Valley track to step forward.  It also says work on the project’s first phase is “under way.”  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, actual construction has not yet begun – despite promises that it would by now.

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California's Delta: Inside and Out
6:05 am
Thu October 17, 2013

California Water Series Part 4: The Delta - A Place Called Home

Mark Morais, left, owner of Giusti's and bartender Mark Rogerson, right.
Curtis Jerome Haynes

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is home to a half million people. In the fourth part of our series, we examine the culture of the Delta and talk to residents about their concerns over its future.

Before I set out to do this story, I’d only been to the Delta a few times. And when I had, it was just a scenic drive from Sacramento down Highway 160, which parallels the Sacramento River. Turns out, that’s not the ideal way to get to know the Delta.

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Water
3:48 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Perea: California Water Bond Needs Fixing Before It Goes To Voters in 2014

Assembly Member Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno)
Credit The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

The state's twice-delayed water bond needs more tweaking - and a diet - before it goes to voters in November 2014. That was the message delivered by Assembly member Henry T. Perea on Tuesday, as he spoke on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition.

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California's Delta: Inside And Out
12:44 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

California Water Series Part 3: Food, Farms and Delta Water

Workers pack cantaloupes on Joe Del Bosque's farm
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

California is the nation’s largest agricultural state. It would not be possible without water from the Delta. Farmers say the water is their lifeblood, but it’s been cut back year after year.

California's farms and ranches generated nearly $45 billion in revenue last year. Without water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to arid Central Valley land, much of the produce we get in restaurants and grocery stores wouldn't come from California.

At Magpie Cafe in Sacramento, co-owner and Chef Ed Roehr sits down just as the lunch crowd is thinning.

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