Val Zavala EnviroSpecial

The Nutty Truth About Almonds

Almonds are one of the thirstiest crops in California. It takes approximately one gallon of water to produce just one almond.

More than 80 percent of all California almonds are exported overseas, mainly to Asia. Some argue that we're sending California's most precious commodity in the midst of a three-year historic drought. That's the equivalent of California sending more than 912 billion gallons of water overseas.

While almond farmers say that's good for California's economy, some residents of California say almonds are sucking up an unfair share, particularly when they're being asked to ration.

In this segment of "SoCal Connected," reporter Jennifer Sabih visits the Central Valley to learn more about how farmers are getting water to keep their trees alive and protect their investments. Sabih also consults water activists Carolee Krieger, executive director of the California Water Impact Network, and Jon Christensen, professor at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Reporter's Note

Fred Starrh purchased 10 million dollars of water from a farmer this year to keep his almond orchards alive. But he is an exception. With no rain coming from the sky, growers desperate to keep their trees alive have been turning to the ground, digging deeper and deeper into the aquifers to find water.

The demand is so great, well digging companies are booked years in advance and drilling crews are working 24 hours a day to keep up.

JPL's Senior climatologist Bill Patzert told me that the ancient water underneath the Central Valley has been there about ten thousand years. And no one knows just how much is left. And most likely, we are running low

Patzert's colleague hydrologist Jay Famiglietti told the San Jose Mercury News, "We may be only a few decades away from hitting bottom."

Up until recently, California was the only state that did not regulate groundwater pumping. That is in the process of changing. Governor Brown recently passed new groundwater control regulations, but they don't really go into effect until 2020. In the meantime, no one can say for sure if California's ancient waters, deep underground, will even last that long.

Featuring Interviews With:

  • Frank Starrh, almond grower
  • Carolee Krieger, California Water Impact Network
  • Jon Christensen, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA

Upcoming Airdates

Season 7 Episode 35

  • 2017-06-24T05:30:00-07:00
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  • 2017-06-25T11:30:00-07:00
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Human Trafficking, Driving in the 1930s, Derelict Icons, Cuddle Sanctuary

Season 7, Episode 24

Young girls sold on the streets of L.A. are victims of human trafficking.

Weekly hug sessions give people the benefits of human touch.

Classic automobiles get new life without losing their weathered charm.

Historical footage of a dangerous Hollywood intersection before traffic signals.

  • 2017-06-27T13:00:40-07:00
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  • 2017-06-29T14:00:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-01T05:30:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-02T11:30:00-07:00
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Food to Fuel, U.S. Bank Tower, Educated and Homeless, Handful of Cards

Season 7, Episode 17

Food scraps are turned into fuel at a state-of-the-art Orange County recycling center.

A close-up view of the colorful light show from the top of downtown's U.S. Bank Tower.

A graduate student at UCLA has a secret. He lives in his car.

The amazing dexterity of those who have mastered the art of "cardistry."
 

  • 2017-07-06T14:00:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-08T05:30:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-09T11:30:00-07:00
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Environmental Special #1

Joshua Tree National Park - Are we loving our parks to death? The popularity of Joshua Tree area is bringing stress and damage to this beautiful park. Frozen Garden - Can endangered plants be saved by freezing them? Can they survive super cold temperatures? Scientists at Huntington Gardens are hopeful. Eco-Village Living - Can you live in harmony with nature in the middle of the city? A communal village in the middle of Koreatown has stook the test of time.

  • 2017-07-11T13:00:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-13T14:00:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-15T05:30:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-16T11:30:00-07:00
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On The Cutting Edge

A look into cutting-edge environmental practices at a farm where soil is king; a visit to an incubator for green business entrepreneurs; and a hopeful discussion with a climate scientist.

  • 2017-07-18T13:00:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-20T14:00:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-22T05:30:00-07:00
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  • 2017-07-23T11:30:00-07:00
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