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water

From Keith Prickett’s front yard just east of Bakersfield you can see the trees of where the official city begins. He’s on the board of a tiny water system with less than 30 homes. It’s called the East Wilson Road Water Company and the water he’s washing his dishes with is polluted with nitrates.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Oil companies in California produce more water than oil. In the San Joaquin Valley that also has created a problem: what to do with all of that unwanted water? In most cases that wastewater is injected back into the ground, deep below the aquifer. But in some cases, injections may have contaminated federally protected aquifers that could be clean enough for drinking water.

Friant Water Authority

A section of the the Friant-Kern Canal in Tulare County is sinking so much that it's lost about 60 percent of its flow.

Doug DeFlitch with the Friant Water Authority says the canal that helps irrigate a million acres of farmland has sunk two to three feet in some places over about a 25 mile area. The original design capacity in the area is about 4,000 cubic feet per second and he says it’s dropped to 1,600 cfs. 

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Drive through the pomegranate and pistachio orchards between highways 41 and 99 and you may stumble upon Valley Teen Ranch, a cluster of residential homes where juvenile offenders come to be rehabilitated.

Today, a few men are in their living room playing a basketball video game and making small talk with Connie Clendenan, the ranch’s CEO. “I'm for the Warriors, don't we have them?” asks Clendenan. “I'm from Oakland, so yeah,” one of the men laughs.

California WaterFix

It could be California’s biggest water infrastructure project in two generations – a plan to build two massive, 35 mile-long tunnels deep beneath the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Dubbed California WaterFix, it would send water from Northern California to farms and cities in the south, bypassing the fragile delta ecosystem.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Thanks to the rapidly melting snowpack, Pine Flat Reservoir on the Kings River east of Fresno is now expected to exceed 100% of its capacity. But water managers aren’t too worried.

Due in part to the extreme heat, estimates of the snowmelt flowing into the Pine Flat Lake were off by about 200,000 acre feet. As of Friday afternoon, the reservoir is just a few inches away from being completely full.

But with more water coming in from the High Sierra, dam engineers have a backup plan.

National Park Service

A visit to Yosemite National Park's Tuolumne Meadows is always special. But this winter's historic snowfall made for an especially memorable season for the two people who stayed behind when Tioga Road closed, and everyone else departed - Tuolumne Winter Rangers Laura and Rob Pilewski. This year they endured massive snowfall, the loss of electricity, and went two months without seeing another person.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In late April, we launched a series called “Contaminated” where our team explores communities in the region affected by water unsafe to drink. In our first story, we visited a Fresno County community that can’t afford to maintain the arsenic treatment plant the federal government funded 10 years ago. 

We continue today with a look at a Madera County mountain community where residents have been exposed to a different hazardous material in water for decades—but they could have clean water by the end of the year.

Valley PBS

Earlier this month Valley PBS launched a documentary miniseries called "Tapped Out: The History and Battle over Water in California’s San Joaquin Valley." 

The four-part series examines the history of water in California. Each episode delves into a different part of the history and future of water in the region and includes the voices of farmers, water leaders and environmentalists.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In 2012, California made history when it became the first U.S. state to declare that clean drinking water is a human right. But five years later, nearly 300 communities still can’t drink their water, according to new state data—many of which are in the San Joaquin Valley.

Today we debut a series about drinking water, in which we explore where these communities are and why it’s so difficult to get clean water. We begin in rural Fresno County north of Lemoore.

Fresno State Facebook page

There’s a new set of public opinion polls out on the views of San Joaquin Valley residents on a variety of issues, from the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act to water and immigration.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Some of the same people who warned state leaders about the probability of Oroville Dam failing are now sounding the alarm at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County.

It’s the first time since before the drought began that San Luis Reservoir in the hills west of Los Banos is nearly full at about 97 percent.

Ezra David Romero

Farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta got some good news this week. For the first time since 2006 farmers and ranchers who buy water from the federal Central Valley Project will have a full water supply. The Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday they will increase deliveries from the 65 percent forecast in late February to 100 percent.

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A new map released by NASA earlier this year shows that large portions of California are sinking. The worst of it is in the San Joaquin Valley. One of the main reasons is the over pumping of groundwater, especially in the last five years of drought.

All that sinking and all the snow melting in the Sierra has Central Valley water managers like Dustin Fuller worried.

National Geographic

The new documentary "Water & Power: A California Heist" takes a look at past and current water wars in California. It's told through the eyes of Valley voices like journalist Mark Arax and Bakersfield Californian Columnist Lois Henry. 

"This is a very serious issue," says the films director Marina Zenovich. "We show people in the film with wells going dry. One of our characters says watch out. You could be next."

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