water

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

More than half of California's population relies on a contaminated drinking water supply – though most communities blend or treat their water to make it safe.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on that finding in a new state report out this week.

The report by the State Water Resources Control Board was ordered by the state Legislature.  It says from 2002 to 2010, 680 out of 3,000 community water systems in the state relied on one or more contaminated groundwater wells.  Those contaminated wells served 21 million people.

Second Snow Survey Shows Below Normal Conditions

Jan 31, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 

California snow surveyors reported Tuesday that water content in the state’s mountain snowpack is below average for the date. 

The manual readings this month confirmed what many water managers expected after a relatively dry January. The water content in the Sierra snow is 93 percent of average for this time of year.

Early storms in November and December dumped snow ranging from 32 ½ to 44 inches around Echo Summit. That erased the deficit in reservoir storage. But very little snow has fallen since.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown reiterated his pitch to shore up California’s water supply in his State of the State address Thursday.  But Brown’s proposal to spend $14 billion dollars on water received no response from lawmakers during a packed joint session.

As KPCC’s Julie Small reports, his message is really for consumers—and the agencies that supply water to them.

Sierra Snowpack Has Water Managers Happy, So Far

Jan 2, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s water managers say the state has a good supply of water so far thanks to a snowy December.

The first official measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack showed four-feet of accumulation. Manual and electronic readings showed the water content of the snow at 134 percent of average for this time of year.

Frank Gehrke is with the Department of Water Resources. He says last year the snowpack in the area was just over one-tenth of an inch.

Talk of Revamping Water Bond to Heat Up in 2013

Dec 13, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

There’s a push for a new look at the $11 billion water bond now scheduled for California’s November 2014 ballot.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, some lawmakers want to reduce the bond’s size, while others want to rewrite it entirely.

Democratic Senator Lois Wolk represents the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region – and she’s long felt the bond approved in 2009 was a bad piece of legislation.  Now that it’s been pushed back a second time, Wolk has introduced a bill that would start over:

California water officials say farmers and others who rely on the State Water Project can count on at least 30 percent of the requested water amount in the coming year. 

The Department of Water Resources says the initial allocation is always conservative since it’s made before the rainy season. 90 percent of the state’s snow and rain comes between December and April.

This week’s storm is giving the State Water Project an early boost and the water supply is expected to increase as more storms roll in.

Governor Brown Says Delta Tunnel System on Track

Oct 23, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown says plans to build a 14 billion dollar pair of tunnels to move water from northern California to the south are on track.

In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Governor Brown estimates that it may take a year and a half before construction could begin on the massive tunnel system.

He unveiled plans in July for a system that would siphon water from the Sacramento River and carry it underground to cities and farmland in the south.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study / San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A list of more than 40 short term projects to improve the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta is now in the hands of California agencies. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, water providers and environmentalists are hopeful some projects will finally get off the ground.

When it comes to the state’s water, there is rarely agreement. But a coalition of Delta water managers, farmers, and environmentalists has agreed on smaller projects to protect the estuary.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study / San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A new study released this week by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the California Department of Fish and Game aims to turn back the clock and learn how the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta used to work - over 150 years ago.

It's part of an effort to allow scientists to better understand how to restore the Delta, by examining how the massive freshwater estuary functioned, before the gold rush and agriculture transformed the region with levees, shipping channels and dredging. 

Many rural Tulare County residents can't drink water from their wells due to nitrate pollution. But now a group of Visalia Rotarians are working to change that, by donating $15,000 worth of reverse-osmosis filters to residents in the small community of Monson.

State Water Resources Control Board

Two major environmental groups have filed suit against the California State Department of Public Health for what they call a failure by the state to set rules for the safe amount of a toxic chemical in drinking water. Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, gained widespread attention as the chemical that sickened residents in the film Erin Brockovich. 

Residents in the Fresno County town of Easton get their water from backyard wells. But many of those wells recently tested above the official limit for certain toxins. It's just the latest case of rural San Joaquin Valley residents struggling to find safe water to drink. Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee reports.

Public health officials in Tulare County are urging residents to avoid the waters of the Kings River after a sewage spill Monday night in Reedley.

According to officials at around 8:00 p.m. Monday night, a problem at the City of Reedley's Wastewater Treatment Plant on Olsen Avenue resulted in a spill of 63,000 gallons of untreated sewage. At least some of the sewage flowed into the Kings River, which is immediately to the east of the plant. 

Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans today to make big changes to the state’s water supply system - and the plan is already being met with both support and criticism from up and down the state.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new $23.7 billion proposal that would build a twin tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta over to the southern part of the state.

Water in Southern California has become an intractable problem. The frustration was evident at the press conference, when Brown dropped a four-letter expletive.

The Sacramento Bee reports:

UC Merced Study Rates Valley's Progress on Environment

Jul 18, 2012

Researchers say the Central Valley has made environmental improvements, just not as much as they'd like. That's according to a new study released today by UC Merced and The Great Valley Center.

The results of the study indicate that watersheds are reaching normal levels, wetland habitat restoration is on the rise, urbanization is slowing, and key air quality indicators are improving. Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, Roger Bales, says these are important indicators in the quality of land, water, and air in the region.

This week on Valley Edition we talk with the mother of Seth Walsh, the Tehachapi teen who took his life after being bullied at school about his sexual orientation. We'll learn more about a new state law that aims to prevent such tragedies, and a new film about bullying. We'll also learn more about the City of Fresno's ongoing operation to install water meters at every home in the city, and about a new exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum that celebrates the legacy of one of Fresno's greatest artists, sculptor Clement Renzi.
 

Valley Edition for May 29, 2012:

On this week's Valley Edition we talk about efforts to end homelessness in the Valley. We also hear about the big water pollution problems facing the communities of rural Tulare County, and get a preview of the Big Fresno Fair.

Segment 1: The Kern River Flows Through Bakersfield Once More? - The Kern River has long been known as one of the wildest rivers in the west. But far below Lake Isabella, as the channel makes its way through the city of Bakersfield, the days of a wild river, or for much of the year a river at all, are long gone. However, a new proposal from the City of Bakersfield aims to do what many thought would never happen, return year round water to the river through the city, creating a new community amenity.

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown declared that the wet winter has officially put an end to the state’s drought. But with the annual April 1 Sierra snowpack at 165 percent of average, does that mean California’s water woes are behind it, or are just getting started. This week on Quality of Life, UC Merced hydrologist Dr. Roger C. Bales tells us about the science of measuring snow, and what global warming might mean for the our water supply.

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