water

This month CNN journalist John D. Sutter is on a mission to kayak the San Joaquin River from Fresno to San Francisco Bay. We spoke with him last week on Valley Edition as he seeks to document the stories along what has been called America's most endangered river.

California Assembly Committee Passes Groundwater Rules Bill

Jun 25, 2014
California Department of Water Resources

Local California water agencies would be able to establish rules governing groundwater use for the first time under a bill that passed an Assembly committee Tuesday. 

Backers of the bill say years of ground water over-pumping has led to wells drying up around the state and has also depleted surface water supplies. Maurice Hall is with the Nature Conservancy.

This week on Valley Edition we take a trip down the San Joaquin River with John D. Sutter of CNN. He's attempting to kayak from Fresno to San Francisco as part of a reporting project on the river that has been called the "most endangered" in the nation.

John D. Sutter / Twitter http://twitter.com/jdsutter

Journalist John D. Sutter is on a quest to do something that many valley residents do, kayak on the San Joaquin River. But instead of going for a short trip from Lost Lake Park to Highway 41, he has a much longer journey in mind - Friant Dam all the way to San Francisco Bay. 

Drought Speeds Up Race To Tap Valley's Groundwater

Jun 23, 2014
Marnette Federis / Capital Public Radio

Vic Bruno’s home isn’t connected to a public water system. Like most rural homeowners in Madera County, his water comes from a deep hole in the ground.  

Bruno: “It’s a three-quarter inch pipe that goes all the way down three-hundred feet.”

Bruno has lived here for 25 years. His ranch is also home to a whole gang of farm animals. So when his well started pumping up sand, he thought of them.

Bruno: "I’ve got horses, sheep, pigs. These guys need water."

Senate Rejects Alternate Water Bond; Brown To Weigh In?

Jun 23, 2014
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California water bond negotiations are entering a critical stretch. Time is growing short to replace the current $11 billion measure on the November ballot. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, one proposal failed a key test vote Monday.

Typically, water politics break down along regional lines. But this vote fell on party lines. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk argued that her proposal stands the best chance of passing the legislature this summer – and winning voter approval this fall.

The 'Deepest Straw Wins' In Central Valley Scramble For Groundwater

Jun 16, 2014
Marnette Federis / Capital Public Radio

  The California drought is becoming a source of tension between homeowners and farmers in the Southern Central Valley. Farmers are seeing unprecedented reductions in their allotments to surface water. Homeowners are watching their private wells run dry. Pauline Bartolone has more about how people in the Fresno area are tapping into underground water.  

The home where Ruth Griffin planned to retire looks like it’s an island in a sea of almond orchards.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

 

A coalition of environmental groups announced Wednesday that it is suing the Bureau of Reclamation over its proposal to send water from northern California to farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

The water transfers would involve pumping over 175,000 acre-feet of water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, home to the endangered delta smelt and other fragile aquatic species.

Lawmakers Get Pressured To Act On Water Bond

Jun 10, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are debating whether to put a scaled-down water bond on the November ballot. And as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, a rally at the Capitol Monday demonstrated the increasing pressure on the legislature as it wades through a number of bond proposals.

Business, agriculture and environmental leaders gathered under the blazing sun, in front the brown Capitol lawn to express the dire need for a water bond. Bryce Lundberg is a rice farmer and a member of the North State Water Alliance. His group has some criteria they’d like to see included in a bond.

California Officials Developing Groundwater Management Plans

Jun 10, 2014
California Department of Water Resources

California state officials are working on a five-year plan they hope will lead to better local management of underground water supplies. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The state says groundwater levels are in alarming decline – and that must be reversed. In times of drought, more water is pulled from the ground. A number of government agencies are generating a five-year plan to make sure that over years of use and replenishment, there’s adequate supply of groundwater

This past weekend thousands of people made the trek to Yosemite Valley from around the world to marvel at the majesty of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and Half Dome.

Fresno Area Homeowners Dig Deep When Wells Go Dry

May 26, 2014
Valley Public Radio

Many people who live in the Fresno area say water isn’t flowing from their taps like it used to. Some households using private groundwater wells are finding the water table is falling below their pumps during the drought.  Pauline Bartolone visited the people in Fresno they call when the water runs out. 

Arthur and Orum drills new water wells for farmers and homeowners in the Fresno area. The company’s Kim Hammond says phones have been ringing off the hook.

The entire state of California is in a severe drought. Farmers and farmworkers are hurting.

You might expect this to cause food shortages and higher prices across the country. After all, California grows 95 percent of America's broccoli, 81 percent of its carrots and 99 percent of the country's artichokes, almonds and walnuts, among other foods.

Yet there's been no sign of a big price shock. What gives?

Here are three explanations.

California Water Managers May Limit River Water Diversion For Crops

May 21, 2014
State Department of Water Resources

Some California farmers may not be allowed to divert river water to irrigate their crops this summer. The restriction is part of new rules being considered this week by state water managers.

Some members of the Water Resources Control board say suspending water rights is an unavoidable temporary emergency measure caused by the drought.

Felicia Marcus Chairs the Board, and says any limits on water rights should be clearly explained, and narrow in scope.

Report: Drought Won't Hurt California Economy

May 20, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s drought may have a lot of negative consequences, but a new report out today says the state’s economy won’t be one of them. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The report from Moody’s Investors Service finds, short term, California’s economy won’t suffer as a result of the drought. It finds the state’s reliance on income taxes and sales taxes will largely provide a buffer. H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance, agrees the state’s economy has weathered the drought so far. 

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. 

Drought Could Cost California Agriculture Industry $1.7 Billion

May 19, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new study shows that California’s drought could result in severe economic losses for Central Valley farmers. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the analysis also shows the drought will mean thousands of job losses.

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. "

California To Import Hydropower To Meet Summer Demand

May 15, 2014
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.

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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