Environment

News about energy and the environment

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Arctic chill that swept into the region Wednesday is causing the San Joaquin Valley’s $2-billion citrus industry to shudder in fear over of what could become a devastating loss to the industry if evening temperatures continue to plummet. FM89’s Ezra David reports on what one Valley grower is doing to combat the freeze.

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James McFarland’s eyes are sleepy and red.

“I’ve been out for most of the night for the past two nights and it looks like that will occur for four or five more,” McFarland says.

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.

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.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Fires in the Sierra Nevada are a natural phenomenon, but with human sparked blazes - like this summer's Rim Fire - the ecology of the mountain range is in flux. Will the high country scorched this summer ever return to its natural glory or will the region of the forest be littered with shrubbery? In this report Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero takes a walk through multiple groves scorched by fires - caused naturally and by the human hand - and speaks with ecologists about the future of the forest burned by the Rim Fire.

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.

California's Demand for Water May Far Exceed Supply in 2014

Nov 20, 2013
CA Dept of Water Resources

Californians may have to be more cautious with their water use in the coming year. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, initial projections indicate there won’t be much to go around.

The Department of Water Resources says it will only be able to initially fulfill five percent of requested water deliveries in 2014. Every year water agencies throughout California request water through the State Water Project. More than 25 million people and 700 thousand acres of farmland depend on the supply.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

As Congress continues to debate the farm bill, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited the Valley Tuesday to speak with local agriculture leaders. But he also called for Washington to do more when it comes to fighting wildfires.

He told a crowd of about 200 hundred people at Fresno State that passing a farm bill is essential to the San Joaquin Valley’s ag economy.

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.

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.

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. 

Central Valley Project Reservoirs Lowest Since 2009

Nov 11, 2013
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.

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

Nov 4, 2013
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.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Bob Mitchell grew up in a vibrant neighborhood.

“We had cleaners, ice cream parlors, and the types of amenities that make a community whole,” Mitchell recalls.

But over the years, the community changed.

“As Fresno continued to grow, West Fresno began to see its demise,” he says. “West Fresno was one of the older communities, but as you can see now, it is just a shell of what it once was.” 

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.

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

Oct 17, 2013
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.

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.

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

Oct 15, 2013
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.

California Water Series Part 2: The Delta's Fragile Ecology

Oct 15, 2013
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was once a vast tidal marshland and inland estuary. Now thousands of miles of fragile levees surround artificial islands below sea level. More than 90 percent of wetlands have disappeared, and native fish are dying.

Suisun Marsh is the largest brackish water marsh on the West Coast. It’s at the Delta’s western most edge.  University of California Davis researchers set out on a boat in Montezuma Slough, which connects the Sacramento River to Suisun Bay.

California's Water Supply, A 700-Mile Journey

Oct 13, 2013
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Both the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project rely on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to bring water to central and southern California. Amy Quinton takes us on a 700 mile journey following California's water supply.

Engineers drive me through a tunnel on an electric cart. We’re going down to the Hyatt Power Plant, which lies under rock at the bottom of the Oroville Dam.

US Forest Service BAER Team

National parks across the country may be off-limits to visitors due to the government shutdown, but in the Sierra, it hasn’t stopped efforts to recover from the Rim Fire.

A crew of around 50 fire response specialists are still on the job in the Stanislaus National Forest and in Yosemite National Park.

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