Environment

Environment
3:44 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

California Water Officials Report Near Record May Snow Levels

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This year’s final measurement of the Sierra snowpack showed near-record low water levels for this time of year. The state takes five monthly measurements each year from January to May.

Doug Carlson with the Department of Water Resources says the state-wide “snow water equivalent” is only at about 18 percent of what would be typical for the first of May.

Carlson: “That means that we are looking at very little relief coming from the mountains in the way of snow melt to provide us with drinking water over the summer and into the fall.”

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Environment
12:36 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Valley Farmers, Researchers Cope With Historic Drought

A mural in the west side town of Mendota, Calif., where the affects of the drought are expected to hit hard this summer.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

May is almost here, and that means we’re entering the peak of the growing season – those sunny days and warm temperatures that make the San Joaquin Valley the most productive ag region in the world. But in this drought year, everything is a little different.

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Environment
9:22 am
Tue April 29, 2014

New Pollution Mapping Tool Aims To Aid Environmental Justice Fight In Central Valley

Credit The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

Last week, the state of California released a new interactive online map that lets you look at how environmentally burdened your neighborhood is compared to the rest of the state. The tool, called CalEnviroScreen 2.0 combines both data on pollution sources and the demographics of a community, including poverty, unemployment and linguistic isolation to compute a score that reflects a community’s overall environmental burden.

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Drought
4:59 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Governor Brown Issues New Executive Order In Reponse To Drought

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown’s latest executive order to combat the drought has some aid for farmers, fish and firefighters – and some requests for all Californians.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Environment
5:24 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

New Analysis Of Pollution Burdens Ranks Fresno, Valley Counties Worst In State

Central Valley counties ranked among the worst in the CalEnviroScreen 2.0 analysis
Credit The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

A new ranking of environmental health in California shows that many Fresno County neighborhoods rank among the worst in the state when it comes to pollution.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's CalEnviroScreen 2.0 database examines how the state's approximately 8,000 census tracts rank on a variety of indicators in two major areas: pollution exposure and socioeconomic factors that increase vulnerability to pollution. The database combines the two to give each tract a score.

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Environment
4:07 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Spring Rain And Snow Mean Increased Water Allocations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Rain and snow may not have pushed California out of its drought, but the late season precipitation will mean a little more water for State Water Project users. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, there

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Environment
5:53 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Cap-and-Trade Money Would Go To Affordable Housing and Transit Under Proposal

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (file)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Money generated from California’s cap-and-trade program would go to mass transit, sustainable affordable housing and high speed rail under a proposal by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Steinberg is backtracking from his previous proposal.

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Drought
10:24 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Drought Operation Plan For Two Water Projects Released

The San Luis Canal carries water to farms and wildlife areas near Los Banos (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California and federal agencies released a plan Wednesday about how they’ll operate the state and federal water projects during the drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan does not change water allocations.

The operations plan provides a guideline of how the two water systems will deal with the drought from now until November.  It looks at two different scenarios. One assumes much drier conditions than the other. Maria Rea with the National Marine Fisheries Service says under both scenarios winter-run Chinook salmon are at risk.

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Energy
2:51 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Senate Committee Moves Ahead With Fracking Moratorium Bill

A California senate committee has moved a bill forward that would place a moratorium on fracking. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the move comes less than a year after the passage of legislation that regulates the oil-extraction process.

Senate Bill 4 put several fracking regulations in place for the oil industry. SB4 also requires a study analyzing the health and safety risks of fracking. At the committee hearing, oil industry representatives called the regulations some of the strictest in the nation.

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Environment
9:54 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Voices Of The Drought: Rushing To Measure The Snowpack

Christine Bohrman is a hydrographer for Pacific Gas and Electric.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

Traditionally the April 1 snow survey marks the peak of the year’s snowpack, but with a string of early spring storms surveyors are rushing to measure the pack with just days to get their measurements in. Valley Public Radio reporter Ezra David Romero helped in the effort as a snow surveyor on a recent trip.

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At 6,000 feet Christine Bohrman, our pilot and I hop out of a helicopter into a snow laden meadow below Courtright Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest.

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Water
7:01 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

PPIC Survey: Support For California Water Bond Increases

The San Luis Canal in Merced County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

According to a new survey, most Californians now support an $11 billion water bond measure on the November ballot. The support levels increase for water bond proposals at lesser amounts. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

A year ago, only 44 percent of California adults and 42 percent of likely voters supported the water bond measure. Now the percentages are 60 percent for adults and half of likely voters. Mark Baldasarre is with the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducted the poll.

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Energy
10:00 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Political Fight Over Fracking Takes Center Stage In California

Environmental activists rallied at the state Capitol to protest "fracking"
Credit Center For Race, Poverty and the Environment - Twitter / https://twitter.com/CRPE_EJ

California is instituting what some are calling the toughest regulations in the nation for the controversial oil extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  But some environmentalists say the regulations don’t go far enough to protect air and water quality.

Several local governments have enacted moratoriums; others are calling for an outright ban on fracking. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the politics are beginning to take center stage.

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Environment
6:45 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Voices Of The Drought: Mendota Mayor Prepares For The Worst

This is Robert Silva's second stint as the Mayor of Mendota.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 California is in the midst of one of the driest years on record and with over a third of the Central Valley’s jobs tied to agriculture and hundreds of thousands of acres going fallow leaders in the region are expecting ag jobs to be few and far between. FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero reports from one west side Valley town that is already feeling the pinch.

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Transportation
7:24 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Fresno Council Vote Gives BRT New Life

The new proposal for Fresno's BRT line will feature conventional buses, not articulated models as shown in this illustration (file photo)
Credit Anil Verma Associates / Fresno FAX

  The Fresno City Council has approved a revised version of a controversial plan for express bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit. The council voted 6-1 Thursday to spend $1.5 million to fund design and engineering work for the $38 million project.

Much like the earlier proposal for Bus Rapid Transit, the new line will feature express bus service on Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues.

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Drought
7:08 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Congressional Hearing On California Water Visits Fresno

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on California's drought in Fresno.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The House Natural Resources Committee took up the issue of water for San Joaquin Valley farmers today before a packed gallery at Fresno City Hall. 

The Republican-led committee heard testimony from local growers and water managers on both short and long-term responses to California's drought and cuts to agricultural water deliveries south of the Delta. 

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Drought
9:05 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Along The Pacific Flyway, California's Drought Raises Concerns For Wildlife

Ric Ortega is the General Manager of the Grasslands Water District in Los Banos
Joe Moore

The area around Los Banos isn't just a stopover for valley travelers along Highway 152 who are headed for the Central Coast. It's also a vital rest stop for millions of birds from across North America on the Pacific Flyway.

Ric Ortega: "If you come out here, you really don't see it all off of any of the major highways. But here we have something that definitely at least from an ecological perspective is equivalent to Yosemite Valley."

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Environment
7:29 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Voices Of The Drought: Hatcheries, Where Will The Fish Go?

Greg Paape and his team raise trout from egg to adulthood.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

  

There are over 1.5 million fish at the San Joaquin Fish Hatchery at the base of Friant Dam, which holds back Millerton Lake on the border of Fresno and Madera Counties.

Greg Paape runs the hatchery for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Today he’s inspecting the health of rainbow trout that he and his team have watched grow from eggs to four to six pounders.

“There’s a nice one there – you can see the rainbow color on him,” Paape says. “If he was in here by himself he’d be a lot silverier. Their he goes.”

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Environment
4:13 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Voices Of The Drought | Blog #droughtvoices

“When House Speaker John Boehner visited Bakersfield to call for drought relief with Valley GOP leaders we met in what felt like the most arid field on earth. Well-dressed reporters littered a recently plowed cotton field adjacent to a giant canal."
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

In this occasional series the Valley Public Radio news team explores the impacts of the drought through the voices and sounds of Central California. 

We invite listeners and viewers to engage in the series by leaving comments on stories and by sharing Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts using the hashtag #droughtvoices.

Posts and photos using the hashtag may appear on the Voices of the Drought Tumblr page alongside stories the news team produces.

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Water
11:02 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Report: California's Water System Needs Better Funding

San Luis Reservoir (file photo)
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

A new report says California would need an additional two to three billion dollars every year to fill gaps where funding is needed for managing the state’s water. From Sacramento, Amy Quinton has more on the latest Public Policy Institute of California report.

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Drought
4:47 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

New Report: California Groundwater Crisis Looming

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

Groundwater supplies are at an all-time low in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, management of that dwindling supply was the focus of debate at the state Capitol.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office told lawmakers that without comprehensive statewide regulation of groundwater, management of the state’s water supply will be increasingly difficult. The LAO suggests the state require local water districts to phase in groundwater permitting and keep track of how much water is extracted from all groundwater wells.

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