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Central Valley

January 30, 2013 | By Bettina Boxall
Irrigation in California's Central Valley pours so much water vapor into the atmosphere that it significantly drives up summer rainfall and runoff in the Southwest, according to a new study. Using a global climate model and estimates of agricultural water use in the Central Valley, UC Irvine scientists concluded that increased evapotranspiration and water vapor export from the valley had a significant effect on the interior Southwest's weather patterns. Average rainfall during the region's summer monsoon season is 15% greater than it would be without the influence of Central Valley irrigation, and the extra precipitation boosts Colorado River flows by 28%, according to the researchers' computer modeling.
April 9, 2014 | By Diana Marcum, Scott Gold and Marisa Gerber
RICHGROVE, Calif. - In March 2013, a man with brooding, mahogany eyes and a walrus mustache traveled from his home in California to visit relatives in Alabama. The trip did not end well. When a business acquaintance insulted Jose Manuel Martinez's daughter, Martinez put two bullets in the man's head, officials said. It was a matter "of family honor," Errek Jett, an Alabama prosecutor, said Wednesday. But it was not, it turned out, the first time he had killed - far from it, authorities believe.
October 1, 2013 | By Anthony York
Anti-gambling activists and Native American tribes that own some of the largest casinos in the state were unable to stop state lawmakers from approving a new casino deal in Madera County earlier this year. Now, they're hoping state voters will halt the project. Opponents of a new casino planned by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians submitted more than 800,000 signatures in county offices across the state on Tuesday to place the fate of the new casino before voters next fall.
April 2, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - Pacific Gas & Electric Co., indicted by the federal government for criminal behavior stemming from a Bay Area natural gas explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, still faces more trouble. In the next few months, PG&E will face the likelihood of a fine from the California Public Utilities Commission as high as $2.25 billion for its role in the September 2010 disaster in the city of San Bruno. On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco announced that a grand jury indicted PG&E on 12 alleged violations of the federal Pipeline Safety Act involving poor record keeping and faulty management practices.
April 2, 2013 | Fox 40 Sacramento
A Central Valley handyman working in the backyard of a Manteca house said he was shocked to discover a patio that appeared to be made of dozens of grave markers. Daniel Lopez said he reported his discovery to the police and the landlord who owns the house. "It's kind of scary," Lopez said. “There were 300-plus, I think. Wouldn't have known it until somebody flipped them over; they looked like bricks.” The markers, each one belonging to a deceased person, were face-down and used to build a backyard patio.
June 3, 2013 | By Joseph Serna
A freight train derailed Sunday in a small town outside of Modesto, closing the track temporarily but otherwise causing little damage. About 10 cars derailed just before 5 p.m. Sunday in Denair, a town about 15 miles southeast of Modesto, the Modesto Bee reported. All but three of the cars were empty and no hazardous material was aboard, the Bee reported. There were no reported injuries, but the track was damaged and was closed until further notice. Amtrak is using buses to carry passengers whose trips were affected by the crash.
April 19, 2013 | By Dan Weikel
A lawsuit alleging that approval of the high-speed rail system's first sections in the Central Valley violated state environmental laws was settled Thursday, eliminating a legal obstacle that could have delayed construction. A Sacramento County Superior Court judge approved an agreement that calls for the California High-Speed Rail Authority to further reduce the project's effects on farming operations, preserve agricultural land and provide additional compensation for landowners.
March 17, 1999
"Contest Offers Chance to Reshape the Central Valley" (March 13) seems more like a search to find just the opposite of saving what is probably the world's largest bread basket. In my view, contrary to the so-called experts, the solution is simple. All the Legislature has to do is to pass a law that will preclude the conversion of agricultural land to any other use. Doing this, which is no doubt politically difficult, would not only save this most precious natural resource, but would strictly limit a population explosion, whether by birth or by migration.
September 26, 2013 | By Angel Jennings
Eight men with ties to a Mexican drug ring were arrested after authorities in the Central Valley discovered a drug den filled with more than $1 million in processed marijuana, authorities said. A narcotics team served a search warrant to residents inside the Madera home Wednesday after receiving a tip of a "menacing grow," said Erica Stuart, spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff's Office.  Agents seized 83 plants, 500 pounds of processed marijuana and another 30 pounds of packaged marijuana "ready to hit the streets," she said.
July 24, 2013 | By Anthony York
SACRAMENTO -- After weeks of nasty campaigning and spending that topped $5 million, Republican farmer Andy Vidak holds a lead of nearly 6,000 votes over Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez as voters went to the polls Tuesday in a Central Valley state Senate race that could still be days away from being settled. The California secretary of State's office said Wednesday morning that Vidak has just over 39,000 votes, or 54%, and Perez has 33,252 votes, or 46%. But an unknown number of provisional and absentee ballots have yet to be tallied and could take days to count.
March 18, 2014 | By Bettina Boxall
Thanks to February storms, state officials are slightly easing drought restrictions on water deliveries, but the changes won't make a difference to most of the state. The prime beneficiaries will be Central Valley irrigation districts with the most senior water rights. Although last month's above average rainfall in Northern California improved the water supply picture somewhat, officials Tuesday continued to predict that the big state and federal water projects that help supply a majority of Californians will deliver little or no water to most agricultural and urban agencies this year.
March 17, 2014 | Tony Perry
Thomas Cox, a third-generation Imperial Valley farmer, is driving his pickup along the gravel roads that separate large fields of lettuce, broccoli, onions and wheat. The discussion turns, as it often does in the Imperial Valley, to water. "Without water," said Cox, 27, "our ground would be useless. " But with copious amounts of water, the Cox family and others have turned half a million acres of desert into one of the most bountiful farming regions in the world -- a fact unchanged by the drought gripping much of California.
February 28, 2014 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO -- A Silicon Valley investor's bid to split California into six states is considered a long shot at best, but that hasn't stopped him from pumping $750,000 of his own money into the effort to place the proposal on the ballot. The investor, Republican Tim Draper, needs to collect more than 800,000 signatures by July 18 to qualify the initiative. If passed by voters, it would also need to be approved by Congress. The initiative would create two new states in Northern California, another centered on Silicon Valley and San Francisco, a fourth in the Central Valley, and two more in the south.
February 21, 2014 | By Bettina Boxall
Central Valley growers Friday got the grim news they have been expecting for months. Most of them will get no water from the big federal irrigation project that supplies 3 million acres of California farm land. Citing the state's severe drought, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced an initial water allocation of zero for most contractors of the sprawling Central Valley Project. That could change. There is a month of winter left and storms on the Northern California horizon could boost reservoir levels, allowing reclamation to deliver more water.
February 14, 2014 | By Diana Marcum and Evan Halper
FIREBAUGH, Calif. - Standing Friday afternoon on cracked, parched earth where melons would usually grow, President Obama brought both a message of aid and an ominous warning to drought-stricken California as he outlined more than $160 million in federal assistance. The directives include aid for ranchers struggling to feed their livestock because of the drought, and for food banks serving families in hard-hit areas. Obama also called on U.S. government facilities in California to curb water use. "These actions will help.
February 13, 2014 | By Seema Mehta and Anthony York
TULARE, Calif. - Signs reading "No Water = No Jobs" line the alfalfa fields and almond orchards along the highway that bisects this region. The weekly "Ag Alert" newsletter records worries about tomato and grape crops, and drought turning dairy pastures brown. Water, or the lack of it, is on everyone's minds here in the Central Valley, stretching from Bakersfield past Sacramento and home of the state's $45-billion-a-year agriculture industry. Republican candidates for governor are seizing on the subject as they seek to score political points against the popular Democratic incumbent, Gov. Jerry Brown.
June 8, 1997
Justin Savitt slugged a 3-2 pitch for a home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Central Valley a 5-4 victory over Van Nuys East in a District 20 game Saturday at Notre Dame High. Casey Roth had a two-run double in the sixth for Central Valley (6-0), which rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the final three innings to hand Van Nuys East (4-1) its first defeat. Mike Schultz (2-0) scattered seven hits for Central Valley.
March 24, 1989
Substantial rainfall in Northern and Central California during the last few weeks will enable the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to increase water deliveries to Central Valley farmers to 80% of normal and fully meet its contracts with most municipal customers, federal officials said. "Thank God for the rain," said Jason Peltier, head of the Central Valley Water Assn. "We're out of what was really a crisis situation. . . ."
February 12, 2014 | By Seema Mehta and Anthony York
TULARE - Visiting an international agriculture fair Wednesday that drew tens of thousands of visitors to the heart of the Central Valley, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari said the state's lack of preparedness for the drought that is devastating the region's farmers and ranchers was an example of Gov. Jerry Brown's failed leadership. “We know that droughts happen and … we're totally unprepared,” Kashkari said during a talk-radio show being broadcast from the World Ag Expo, surrounded by massive tractors and automatic grape harvesters.
February 12, 2014 | By Anthony York
TULARE -- Gov. Jerry Brown came to this town halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield on Wednesday to briefly tour the World Ag Expo and continue his unofficial reelection bid in the heart of Republican California. The visit marked the governor's second public swing through the Central Valley this year, and on Friday, he will join President Obama in Fresno to meet with agriculture leaders and discuss the state's drought, which has become the latest source of partisan tension in Washington.
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