Southern California environment news and trends

Sole lead battery recycler still open in Southern California seeks to expand production 25 pct

KPCC/Molly Peterson

Quemetco, in the City of Industry, recycles 600 tons a day of lead from batteries.

One of Southern California’s two lead battery recyclers has moved to expand its operations as a second company files paperwork with regulators aimed at helping it reopen. 

Only two lead battery recyclers have been operating west of the Mississippi in recent years.

Exide Technologies’ facility, in the city of Vernon, has been shuttered since mid March while it makes upgrades air regulators say are necessary to keeping the surrounding air free of lead and arsenic. The company has filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy code.

TIMELINE: Exide's troubled history with state regulators

Nearby in the City of Industry, Quemetco smelts 600 tons of lead a day at its plant. The company and regulators at the South Coast Air Quality Management District have confirmed that Quemetco has filed an application to expand its operations by 25%.


California Drought News: Poll finds drought's a big deal, but not worth spending money on (huh?)


It's looking like another El Niño this year. The maps above show the ten-day average of sea surface height centered on May 2, 1997 (left), which was a big El Niño year, and May 3, 2014. Red and orange indicate where the water is warmer and above normal sea level. Blue-green show where sea level and temperatures are lower than average. Normal sea-level conditions appear in white.

Friday's news finds people to be mysterious and full of contradictions...but hopefully interested in one last drought news roundup before the weekend!

  • A new USC Dornsife/LA Times poll finds most people approve of most solutions to the drought — unless those solutions cost money. And only 16 percent of those surveyed find that the drought has affected them personally:
Despite widespread news coverage of the drought — one of the worst in recent decades — the state's major population centers have largely escaped severe mandatory rationing. Even agriculture, which as California's thirstiest sector is inevitably hit the hardest by drought, has partially compensated for reduced water delivery by pumping more groundwater. That has softened the drought's effect on many, apparently blunting the desire for drastic remedies and big spending on water projects.


California Drought News: F-words inspired by the drought

california golden bear sacramento

Photo by Brook Ward via Flickr Creative Commons

This bear sits outside the California's Governor's office donated by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Today's dryku:
Lions, ki-yotes, bears
Coming down to hang with us
It's not the drought's fault

Today's drought news roundup categorizes stories by F-words. Not those F-words.


  • The drought is pushing water-saving techniques into all corners of the state. This article points out how a dairy farm has changed to conserve. I don't understand a good 40 percent of the vocabulary. What I do get is fascinating:
Wilbur also changed how he cools his cows waiting in the holding pen before milking. While he once doused them with a generous amount of water, he has shortened the time the sprinklers are on to a mere 30 seconds. Then the water stays off for four minutes. That allows time to dissipate about 80% of the moisture off the cows before the sprinkler system comes on again, he said. (Dairy Herd Management)


California Drought News: Start your day off wrong with coffee and Bono

Lanscape of Joshua Tree National Park

Nillie De Grakovac

The sun shines on Joshua Tree National Park. Photo submitted by Nillie De Grakovac.

Today's drought news tells us we're starting our day off wrong. First though, here's a little song to match today's reading:

VIDEO: U2 - In God's Country


  • Rick Paulus over at KCET is trying to make us feel bad about drinking coffee. He points out that 37 gallons of water go into making a single cup of joe. Also, there's the carbon footprint and other things that may make me give up my morning fix. What to do?
Tea with caffeine is a good alternative. On average, one cup of tea needs only 9 gallons of water to produce, and loose tea generates a carbon footprint of around 20 grams of CO2 per cup [vs. roughly 340 grams for a large latte]. (KCET)
  • Families in 24 of the counties hardest-hit by the drought are getting food assistance. It's part of the $687 million drought relief package Governor Brown signed back in March. The article contains good information about the program if you or someone you know needs to take part. (CBS Sacramento)


California Drought News: New questions for an old dam debate, and new threats to old forests

A man looks for gold in Woods Creek in Jamestown, Calif., in 2011.

David Paul Morris/Getty Images

A man looks for gold in Woods Creek in Jamestown, Calif., in 2011.

Monday's drought news reveals that everything old is new again, drought-news-wise.

  • Matt Weiser and Jeremy White report that the drought has reactivated efforts to build dams and reservoirs around California; seven pieces of legislation and numerous other proposals would authorize new construction. This time around, they say there are new questions about such proposals
Is there enough water left in California to justify the cost of dams? If taxpayers do front some money, what are they really buying? Are they propping up a project with shaky economics, or buying something with real public value? (Sacramento Bee)

Great, great read, and a must-read today.

  • We've heard several times this year already about new opportunities for finding gold in exposed river beds thanks to the drought. Scott Gold's version of the gold prospector story includes a short video. (LA Times)
  • KQED's Sasha Khoka hangs out with the drilling guys making a killing off of drought. The Central Valley is busily sinking wells and deepening them in search of more water, and well drillers say they're even more busy than the last big drought in 1977. She talked to one guy, Bob Zimmerer, who admits the silver lining of the drought has more than a little cloudy gray in it: