Environment

News about energy and the environment

Credit www.usbr.gov

Central Valley Farmers received the news today that they had been fearing for months. Due to the drought Central Valley Project contractors will receive an unprecedented “zero allocation.”

Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau says the allocation will force farmers to fallow huge portions of land across Central California.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

President Obama visited the valley today in a whirlwind tour, delivering a speech this afternoon at the Los Banos farm of Joe Del Bosque to announce his proposal for emergency drought relief. He says that while the lack of rain and snow is a concern to the Central Valley, it’s also a national issue:

Obama: “California is our biggest economy, California is our biggest agricultural producer, so what happens here matters to every working American, right down to the cost of food that you put on your table.”

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

During his visit Friday to the Central Valley, President Obama discussed the   drought with community leaders in Firebaugh. FM 89’s Rebecca Plevin asked residents there what they would tell the President about the region, if they had the opportunity.

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If President Obama had time to stop by the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant in Firebaugh today, he would hear a strong message from owner LaVonne Allen.

“We need more water storage, there’s no ands, ifs, or buts about it,” she says.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

President Obama will visit the Central Valley this afternoon to announce an aid package to help farmers, ranchers and communities hit hard by California's record drought. After landing in Fresno, the President is expected to attend a roundtable discussion about the drought in Firebaugh and tour a farm in Los Banos.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the President's message will be clear:

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s a rather dry year here at the 47th annual World Ag Expo in Tulare. Water or the lack of it is on everyone’s mind.

Even though the official slogan of the expo is “Agriculture: Feeding Tomorrow’s World,” Charles Sarabian, an engineer with Preferred Pump and Equipment in Fresno, says the real theme of the show is how to conserve what little water is left.

“I think it’s what’s on everybody’s minds and it’s what makes agriculture grow without water there is no agriculture," Sarabian says. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the rains of the past weekend, California’s drought is still a huge problem for communities up and down the state. While many towns in the Valley are bracing for the economic impact of the drought, and the resulting loss of farm jobs, the community of Orange Cove also has to contend with concerns about its water supply.

Mayor Gabriel Jimenez says that while the city has five municipal wells to draw water from the aquifer, they can't be used due to nitrate pollution.

"Now our wells are shutdown, we're 100 percent dependent of surface water," says Jimenez. 

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

When farmworker Jose Gonzalez Cardenas can’t find work, he heads to the Westside Pool Hall in Mendota. Planting has hardly begun in the Central Valley, but everyone here is talking about the state’s drought, and what it could mean for the growing season.

“If there’s no water, we’re not going to have work,” Gonzalez says in Spanish.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

We all know that California’s drought is posing huge problems for valley farmers. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports, it’s also a concern for pilots at one of the largest Navy installations in the west.

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It’s a busy day at the Lemoore Naval Air Station in Kings County. Pilots flying F/A18 Super Hornets are practicing touch and go exercises on a runway that’s painted to look like an aircraft carrier.

Total California Water Storage Near Decade Low

Feb 6, 2014
State Department of Water Resources

The Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins are experiencing the steepest drop in water storage in nearly a decade. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a new study looked at all water storage in the basins, including snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

One of the best parts of living in Central California is our proximity to the Central Sierra. Right in our backyard, we have treasures like Mt Whitney, the Kern River, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks, plus thousands of acres of wilderness lands. But when it comes to the Sequoia National Forest and others in the National Forest system, budget cuts over recent years have taken a toll.

www.usbr.gov

Last Friday, the State Water Project took the unprecedented step of cutting projected water allocations for its contractors to zero. And other water users, including those who get supplies from the federal Central Valley Project are expecting severe cuts of their own. 

The drought has prompted many farmers to fallow their fields, and growers of permanent crops like almonds, grapes and pistachios are scrambling to find backup supplies to keep their trees and vines alive this year. 

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Starting this week, Valley Public Radio will share an occasional series, called Voices of the Drought. First up, is the story of small farmer Chia Lee.

Back in Laos, Chia Lee grew rice and corn on a mountainside. He never worried about rain there.

“We’re waiting for the monsoon rain in Laos, once a year, so we don’t worry about anything,” Lee says.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Westside farmers who banked excess water last year in San Luis Reservoir anticipating a drought won't have to give it up, according to an announcement today from the US Bureau of Reclamation. 

The farmers had faced the threat of losing that water to other farmers who hold senior water rights, such as the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors. 

The Bureau was facing political bipartisan political pressure against reallocating the water. But the move could leave the door open to lawsuits. 

US National Weather Service Hanford California

California’s drought is causing big concerns for residents and farmers up and down the state. But while a storm is expected to bring some precipitation to the area Thursday, FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the valley’s rainfall deficit is actually worse than the season totals indicate.  

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According to independent meteorologist Steve Johnson, more moisture has evaporated from the ground than has actually fallen from the sky this rainy season.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Here in the Central Valley – in one of the most polluted air basins in the country – we know that poor air is bad for our health. We feel it in our eyes and throat, and when we struggle to breathe.

But what if air pollution is affecting us at a deeper, cellular level?

That's exactly what Dr. Kari Nadeau discovered a few years ago. She’s a Stanford School of Medicine professor with an expertise in asthma and allergies.

Drought Forces California Ranchers To Make Tough Decisions

Jan 27, 2014
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California’s ranchers depend on fall and winter rains to keep grasses growing for their livestock. But the state’s drought is forcing them to make tough decisions. With rangelands dry statewide, moving herds isn’t an option. Many are resorting to buying feed, but its rising cost is making that choice difficult. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some ranchers must decide whether to sell their livestock or go out of business. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Valley congressional leaders and House Speaker John Boehner met in a dusty cotton field outside Bakersfield today to announce a plan for emergency legislation in response to California’s drought.

Boehner, who was joined by valley Republicans Devin Nunes, David Valadao and Kevin McCarthy told the crowd that the water shortage requires action, and blamed environmental laws for part of the problem.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

With record dry conditions across the state and Governor Jerry Brown’s drought declaration today farmers and other agriculture leaders in the San Joaquin Valley are predicting a grim economic forecast for 2014.  

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge Water Bond and Drought Declaration

Jan 16, 2014
Twitter account of Senator Anthony Canella / http://twitter.com/AnthonyCannella

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, farmers and farm workers gathered on the Capitol steps today to call on California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought.

The Latino Water Coalition also wants to see legislation that would put a water bond on the 2014 ballot. Supporters say the state is experiencing some of the driest conditions on record, and farmers livelihoods are at stake.

Republican State Senator Anthony Canella from the Central Valley says increased water storage should be part of the water bond package.

U.S. Forest Service Sequoia National Forest

Historically dry conditions in the Sierra Nevada have resulted in a rare January wildfire burning in a remote area of the Golden Trout Wilderness, about 20 miles east of Springville.

The Soda Fire was discovered on Tuesday by officials with the Sequoia National Forest. So far the fire has consumed around 130 acres, and is burning at a moderate rate. No structures are threatened. 

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