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Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

When California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, it became the last Western state to regulate its groundwater. If local groundwater agencies fail to submit plans to the state by 2020, the law says state water agencies could take over management of groundwater, a resource that’s critically important to Valley agriculture.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A state senate committee is set to vote on a bill today that would address safe and affordable drinking water throughout California, a goal Governor Gavin Newsom has also prioritized in his proposed budget. Still to be decided is how to fund it.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will introduce a tax of up to $10 a month to water customers in order to fund safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities. Valley Public Radio has reported in the past about how many of those communities are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. To learn about Newsom’s plan, we spoke to Jonathan Nelson, policy director at the Community Water Center.

On this week’s Valley Edition: More than half of California’s olive groves are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. But Tulare County growers say that with a major olive cannery set to buy more Spanish olives, the future for olive production looks grim.   

Plus, it’s Women’s History Month. We sat down with three young, dynamic leaders to ask about the women who inspire them.

And later, we learn more about President Trump’s plans to rewrite rules that govern water allocations and infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.  

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Governor Gavin Newsom signed his first pieces of legislation into law on Wednesday, and he chose to sign them at a school where the water contains a carcinogen and kids can’t even use the drinking fountains.

Newsom opened his visit in a history classroom, introducing the bills to a room full of students at Riverview Elementary School in the Fresno County City of Parlier. “Shall we sign?” he asked, crouching down before the front row with a pen. “Yes,” they shouted, raising their hands excitedly.

Peter Merholz, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2767657

Pacific Gas and Electric, the primary utility provider in the Central Valley, filed for bankruptcy last month leaving questions about what this means for California’s renewable energy industry. Many renewable energy companies contract with PG&E, but as the company’s assets are examined, those contracts could be changed. This could also affect the state’s ability to rely on 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

 

This week on Valley Edition: We hear from the widow of a police officer who took his life last year. Now, she’s telling his story to bring attention to a leading cause of death among law enforcement.

Plus: We talk to a grandmother and a grandson - she’s 83, he’s 19 - about their takes on life, love and aging. They're part of our new occasional series, Over 80, Under 20.

San Joaquin River Restoration Program

California is often at odds with the Trump administration, and the latest battleground could be in the issue of managing the state's precious water supply. At the same time the state's water board is considering major cuts to water sent to farms and cities, the Trump administration is taking its own actions. Last week the Trump administration served notice that it wants to renegotiate a 32-year-old agreement that governs how the state and federal projects operate and cooperate.

Martín Chávez

Update: 8/22/18 Officials lifted the "Do not drink" water order in Stratford on Wednesday afternoon August 22nd. However, according to Martín Chávez, only one pump is operational at this time. 

On this week’s Valley Edition, we learn how Fresno State students are leaving their mark at one of the top scientific institutions in Europe. We also continue our look at the issue of homelessness with a profile of a Fresno mom who was living on the streets, and is now working to turn her life around. Plus we look back at what’s happened to the unaccompanied minors who sought refuge in this country, including one local man who is now an adult, and seeking permanent residency status.

State Department of Water Resources

For years, farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley have been struggling with reduced water deliveries. The problem – as they see it – has been reduced pumping out of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta, restrictions in place to help the fragile ecosystem there recover. But species in the Delta and the rivers that feed it are still declining.

Marc Benjamin

If you’ve been to Disneyland, Cambria, many parts of Los Angeles, then you most likely had a swig of highly treated recycled water. Recycled water meaning, yes, it was once in a sewage treatment plant.


For many years this recycled water has helped Orange County meet the needs of its growing population and reduce the toll on its declining aquifers. Soon, the same kind of water may be coming to Clovis and Fresno’s drinking water.
 

Flickr user Anna Irene (Creative Commons)

Mono Lake is one of the jewels of the Eastern Sierra. Its saline waters have created a unique ecosystem, providing habitat for everything from brine shrimp to migratory birds. But for years Mono Lake has had a problem – water diversions made by the City of Los Angeles. They reduced the level of the lake, harming both the ecosystem and creating massive dust clouds. In the mid-1990’s a deal was reached that both the LA Department of Water and Power and conservationists hoped would save the lake, and increase water levels by reducing the diversions.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

The winter of 2016 to 2017 was extreme. Not only did it put an end to an extended drought in most of California, it delivered far more rain than average, and even set some rainfall records.

The state experienced a different kind of extreme in 1862, when the state was pounded by storm after storm over a short period of time, which caused what some called megafloods—the likes of which we haven’t seen since.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The California Water Commission delivered bad news last Friday to the backers of a proposed new dam on the San Joaquin River near Fresno. Supporters had hoped to receive around $1 billion in funding for the $2.7 billion project from the money voters approved in the 2014 Proposition 1 water bond. Instead, the commission awarded Temperance Flat only $171 million. Other proposed storage facilities fared better, such as the Sites Reservoir, which scored nearly $1 billion in funding. So what are the winners and losers saying?

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno has long relied on groundwater to meet its needs, but a new surface water treatment plant is slated to begin operating this summer. While the city faced complications with their last treatment plant, they’re hoping the lessons learned help solve problems before they start.

Fresno’s new Southeast Surface Water Treatment Plant is huge, and built to do one thing: Treat water from the Kings River, and send it out to Fresno residents.

Westlands Water District website

It wasn’t a "Miracle March" but last month's spring storms helped turn around what might have been a devastating year for California’s water supplies into one that is merely depressing. But was it too late for many valley farmers? We spoke with Johnny Amaral, deputy general manager for external affairs for Westlands Water District on Valley Edition. He joined us to talk about how this year is shaping up for valley growers, and also about some other issues in the news.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new report from the Visalia-based Community Water Center indicates that nearly 500 local water board seats have gone uncontested in recent elections. In the southern San Joaquin Valley, the report finds that 87 percent of seats on public water boards went uncontested. When only one candidate is seeking a seat, the election for that seat is not held.

Community Water Center

More than 300 California communities lack access to clean drinking water. A disproportionately high number of those communities lie in the San Joaquin Valley, as we reported in our 2017 series Contaminated. Last fall, a bill with a proposed solution passed the state senate but has since remained in limbo, receiving both broad support and opposition—even in the San Joaquin Valley.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A new study identifies those San Joaquin Valley residents without access to drinking water, but a solution may be close at hand.

Hundreds of thousands residents in the San Joaquin Valley lack access to clean drinking water. This is especially common in unincorporated communities categorized as disadvantaged, which are also overwhelmingly Hispanic.

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