Voices of the Drought

In this occasional series the Valley Public Radio news team explores the impacts of the drought through the voices and sounds of Central California. We invite listeners and viewers to engage in the series by leaving comments on stories and by sharing Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts using the hashtag #droughtvoices. Posts and photos using the hashtag may appear on the Voices of the Drought Tumblr page alongside stories the news team produces.

Hashtag: #droughtvoices
Tumblr: http://voicesofthedrought.tumblr.com/

Please send story ideas, comments and drought related information to Producer/Reporter Ezra David Romero at eromero@kvpr.org or on Twitter @ezraromero

Cornerstone Theater Company

What do you get when you add Shakespeare to California?

Fowler.

The traveling Los Angeles based Cornerstone Theater Company is hosting a rendition of the play 'The Tempest' in Fowler this week called 'California: The Tempest.'

Fowler is just one of 10 stops along the company's journey. Other cities in the tour include Valley locales like Arvin and Lost Hills and larger cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Central Valley Friendly Landscaping Website - http://ucanr.edu/sites/cvlandscape/ / University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

It might become a little easier to replace your lawn with artificial grass if a new bill in Sacramento becomes law. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says he wants to take the model the state has used to subsidize solar power on homes across the state and apply it to another green project – removing lawns.

Salas introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide a tax credit to homeowners who remove their lawns and replace them either with drought-resistant landscaping or synthetic lawns.

Matt Black

Some of the most vivid depictions of California’s drought have come from Exeter-based photographer Matt Black. In 2014 TIME Magazine named him their “Instagram Photographer of the Year” for his stark images of dust storms, dry fields, and parched rivers.

Ezra David Romro / Valley Public Radio

Drought conditions in parts of Central California have become so harsh that it’s normal to turn on the tap have no coming out.  A few months ago we brought you the story of East Porterville where more than 600 homes are without water because their household wells have dried up. Now, some of the town’s residents will have access to something they haven’t had in months. 

The last time Gilberto Sandoval took a warm shower was over a month ago.

“I’ve  been without running water for the last three months,” Sandoval says. “ No water whatsoever.”

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This story is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

California Department of Water Resources

California Governor Jerry Brown made history Tuesday morning when he signed into law three bills that for the first time will regulate groundwater in the state. California had been the only state in the nation that did not regulate groundwater at the state level.

While many environmental groups praised the move, a number of valley agriculture interests opposed the new regulations. This week on Valley Edition, we talked to Joel Nelson of the Exeter-based group California Citrus Mutual about his concerns about the new laws. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio.

With fires raging in the region and no sign that the drought will ease up, farmers and even homeowners are on the hunt for water. The initial answer is to dig a new well. But wells are expensive. In this piece FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on a solution that many Valley homeowners rely on.

Eugene Keeney hooks his 2,500 gallon water truck to a fire hydrant on the northern edge of Clovis. 

cawaterchallenge.org

In California, water availability is becoming a serious problem—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative solutions.

Developers at a San Francisco non-profit have created the California Water Challenge, an interactive website that aims to teach players about the state’s water problems while prompting them to make difficult decisions about how to solve them.

Noel Perry is the founder of Next 10, the company that created the tool.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

The community of Seville has received good news: its residents can finally drink their tap water.

With the help of Tulare County and state emergency funding, the unincorporated community last month drilled a new well for its 500 residents—and tests just confirmed that its water is potable.

The community had been struggling for years with high levels of nitrates and leaky pipes.  Ryan Jensen with the Community Water Center says water pressure is also a problem: when it’s too low, contaminants can get in.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: Wednesday August 20th 9:00 AM - Fire crews made good progress on the Junction Fire Tuesday and the blaze is now 40 percent contained. The mandatory evacuation orders for areas west of Highway 41 have been lifted except for Road 620. Areas east of Highway 41 remain closed. Highway 41 to Yosemite is now open.

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Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition reporter Ezra David Romero takes a look at Fresno's tech boom, Grist writer Nathanael Johnson and Robert Rocha of Madera based Enzo Olive Oil chime in on whether olive oil will be the oil in the next California oil boom, and host Joe Moore speaks with Marshall Tuck who is running for state superintendent of pu

Johannes Hoevertsz / Madera County

For the last three days a water crisis in a small community outside Madera left its residents without potable water. FM89’s Ezra David Romero has more on how Madera County is bringing water to this parched community.

Thursday was the first day that the 2,300 residents in the community of Parkwood, just south of Madera, have had pure enough water to drink come out of their faucets. The reason? The well that supports the community failed.

Johannes Hoevertsz the county public works director helped distribute bottled water.

Kerry Klein

This is Pasa Tiempo Park in Clovis.  It’s 5 acres of green grass tucked between suburban homes and an orange grove.  It’s a lot like any other neighborhood park:  benches, fruit trees, and lots of space for kids.

Aller: I love the playground features, we have like spider-web crawlers and we’ve got some of the rope climbing things.  My name is Eric Aller, and I’m the parks manager for the city of Clovis.

CalFire/Fresno County Fire Twitter / https://twitter.com/FresnoCoFire/status/485972454439780353/photo/1

A major canal that supplies Kings River water to east side valley farmers will be out of commission for one week at the height of the  growing season. 

A levee on the Alta Irrigation's District's Alta Main canal east of Sanger gave way on Sunday evening, flooding several homes and closing Highway 180 for a short time. Crews were able to control the flooding and turn off the water supply.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Guests in interview above: Don Martin of Metro Galleries and KVPR Reporter and Producer Ezra David Romero. 

Over the past few months Valley Public Radio Reporter Ezra David Romero has covered California's historic drought.

He's written stories, snapped photos and launched an Instagram reporting collaborative with youth reporters, farmers and other social media users called "Voices of the Drought" using the hashtag #droughtvoices. 

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.

Diana Aguilera

Schools on the east side of Fresno County are already feeling the impact of California’s ongoing drought.

Education officials from the Kings Canyon Unified District say they have seen a significant drop in attendance this year.

 Superintendent Juan Garza says families have been forced to relocate, taking their school aged children with them.

Come August of next school year, there may be even less kids having fun on the playground. 

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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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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