Environment

Environment
5:52 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

California Budget Proposal Would Move Clean Drinking Water Program

Credit Valley Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal would make a significant change to the state’s Safe Drinking Water Program.  Last year, the Department of Public Health came under fire for failing to spend almost a half billion dollars to provide drinking water to communities that need it.

Under Brown’s budget proposal, the State Water Resources Control Board would run the program in the future. Jennifer Clary, with Clean Water Action, says she’s glad the program will be taken from the Department of Public Health.

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Water
5:47 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Patterson Calls For Halt To San Joaquin River Restoration Releases

Water is released from Friant Dam near Fresno into the San Joaquin River as part of the river restoration program (file photo)
Credit San Joaquin River Restoration Program

Citing a historically dry 2013, Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) is calling for the federal government to stop water releases from Friant Dam for the San Joaquin River Restoration program.

Since 2009 the restoration program has released water into the river on an interim basis in an effort to bring back salmon populations to a stretch of the channel that has been dry for decades. The restoration agreement calls for those flows to become permanent in 2014.

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Water
4:32 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

California Water Officials Say Drought Proclamation Likely

DWR Director Mark Cowin and DWR’s Drought Preparedness Manager Bill Croyle highlight the importance of water transfers and drought preparedness during the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Board Meeting in Sacramento on January 7.
Credit Paul Hames / Department of Water Resources

The Director of the California Department of Water Resources says he believes Governor Jerry Brown will likely declare a drought. Mark Cowin  made the comments to the state Board of Food and Agriculture today.

Water managers painted a bleak picture for the board of the dry conditions and low reservoir levels around the state. Cowin says all signs point to a drought.

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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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Environment
6:59 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Cold Snap Could Be A One-Two Punch To Valley Citrus Industry

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.

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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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Environment
12:00 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Fighting Fire With Fire, The Future Of The Rim Fire Burn Area

The Rim Fire burned at varying intensities. Ecologists say that some areas may not return to their prior glory.
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.

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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
6:43 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

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

San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos
Credit 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.

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Environment
5:23 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

In Fresno, Vilsack Calls For New Approach To Wildfire Fight

Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Fresno State to encourage students embrace farming careers.
Credit 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.

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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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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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Environment
10:14 am
Tue October 29, 2013

West Fresno Residents, Health Advocates Fight City Hall Over Controversial Projects

Some West Fresno residents are concerned that a proposed zoning change could lead to more health problems in their community.
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.” 

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