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UC Merced Study Rates Valley's Progress on Environment

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.

"There have been small moves towards using renewable energy. But on the other hand, we need to do what we need to do more, in that direction. And that when we do more, it'll have positive benefits on improving air quality, giving a new set of jobs around that, and also, mitigating or reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is a goal of the state."

The study shows that ozone levels still surpass state and federal air quality standards in almost all the counties in the region. The levels of nitrate in drinking water have increased, along with waste production and energy consumption. Bales says that if changes aren't made, it could have a devastating impact.

"We'll lose opportunities toward improving the long-term sustainability and quality of life in the region."

Among the suggestions researchers gave for improving the environment are, preserving the Valley's water supply, adopting environmentally-friendly methods, and embracing renewable energy technologies for sustainable growth.