Environment

Water Conservation
12:24 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Campus-Wide Collaboration Ups Fresno State's Water Conservation

A new demonstration garden promotes water conservation on the Fresno State campus.
Credit Kerry Klein

One of Fresno State’s newest additions is a broad, brown, mulchy patch of land in front of the Science II building.  Gardening specialist Fortunato Garcia leads volunteers with shovels to a lumpy mound.

Garcia: All right, so we'll put one fertilizer tab here, one here, one here, one there...

Before long, this patch will be more than mulch—it’s the start of a waterwise demonstration garden.  Grounds supervisor Michael Frick points out the low-water bulbs and saplings that are being planted. 

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Environment
11:28 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Brown Proposing Additional $66 Million to Help Fight Wildfires

Governor Jerry Brown wants California to spend more money on firefighting resources. In his May budget revision, Brown is proposing an additional $66 million for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. - file photo
Credit Sierra National Forest

California’s firefighting agency, Cal Fire, has already responded to about 1,500 fires this year. That’s nearly twice what would be normal. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown wants Cal Fire to have more money to fight the extended wildfire season.

Under Brown’s May budget revision, Cal Fire would receive an additional $66 million. Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant says the money would allow the department to retain the seasonal firefighters it’s hired, including 300 last month. 

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Environment
10:36 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown Says California Wildfires Linked To Climate Change

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says human-caused climate change is probably the main reason wildfires are scorching large parts of San Diego County at this time of year.

Brown told CNN that climate change is the reason why the California fire season is now 70 days longer than it was in the past. He says high winds and dry conditions make fires larger and more devastating.

Brown:  “Those conditions are definitely caused by climate change, global warming induced by human activity.”

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Environment
4:51 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Depletion Linked to Earthquakes

Pumping of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley could be influencing seismic activity in California. (file photo)
Credit California Department of Water Resources

Researchers have long known that the mountain ranges surrounding the Central Valley have been rising faster than expected--a few millimeters every year for over a century.  And over the same time, seismic activity in the area has also increased.  According to a new study, both may be linked to the depletion of groundwater in the Central Valley.  Colin Amos of Western Washington University is lead author on the study.

"We find that the mountains are rising surrounding the San Joaquin Valley where the greatest rates of groundwater withdrawal are happening. "

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Drought
2:33 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

California To Import Hydropower To Meet Summer Demand

Friant Dam - file photo
Credit San Joaquin River Restoration Program

California energy officials say there’s less hydropower available in the state because of the drought. But as Steve Milne reports from Sacramento, the state plans to meet peak summer demand by importing power.

California may not have had much rain but its neighbors to the north are in better shape. Cal-ISO, the agency that manages the state’s energy supply, says that’s where California will get some of its hydropower this summer.

Cal-ISO’s Steven Greenlee says California will have about 1,500 megawatts less of in-state hydroelectricity than last year.

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Drought
6:29 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Valley Growers At Odds Over Millerton Lake Water

Millerton Lake is the site of the state's latest water fight, pitting downtstream San Joaquin River growers against those who typically get Friant water on the valley's east side.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today that for the first in this history of Friant Dam, the oldest water rights holders on the San Joaquin River - the Exchange Contractors  - will begin to draw down water from Millerton Lake.

The move pits farmers in Merced County against those on the east side of the valley from Fresno to Kern, and underscores the divide between the holders of historic water rights, and those whose supplies came about in the middle of the 20th century.

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Environment
5:52 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

In Clovis, Water Technology Conference Focuses On Drought

The day long event gathered scientists, students, farmers and leaders to discuss water and drought related issues in California.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

More than 300 farmers, businessmen, and local and state leaders gathered in Clovis today to talk about drought and how to use water more wisely at the 2014 Water Technology Conference.

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Environment
10:20 am
Tue May 6, 2014

CAL FIRE Fears Fire Season Could Be Worst Ever

file photo
Credit Twitter.com / CAL FIRE PIO Kevin Berlant / https://twitter.com/CALFIRE_PIO

CAL FIRE says it fears this year's fire season could be the worst on record.  Bob Moffitt reports on the state's preparations.

In Southern California, fire season never really ended.  In Northern California, CAL FIRE started hiring firefighters four months ahead of schedule.

Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird says the state is in the middle of the driest three years on record.

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Environment
5:57 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Voices Of The Drought: The Man Inside Fresno's Friant Dam

Zaninovich looks over the spillway that may not open this summer because of severe dry conditions.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

This past weekend’s summer-like temperatures mean the state’s already meager snowpack is quickly melting. And for much of the Central Sierra, those waters will eventually find their way into Millerton Lake, behind Friant Dam. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero tells us in our series Voices of the Drought, managing those waters is a tough job, especially this year.

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Environment
4:50 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Clean Water Advocates Call Proposed Recycled Water Rules 'Permissive'

Credit Valley Public Radio

The California State Water Resources Control Board is responding to the drought by proposing to change the permitting process for recycled water production. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, clean water advocates want tighter quality controls.

When California Governor Jerry Brown first declared a drought emergency at the beginning of the year, the state water board started drafting a new process so more household wastewater can be recycled for irrigation.

Scott Couch:  “It is a valuable resource.”

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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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