Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

LA County supervisors criticize 'piecemeal' cleanup around Exide, seek money for lead testing

Exide begins to remove lead-polluted soil on Monday morning at a house on the 1200 block of La Puerta Street in Boyle Heights.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

All five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have signed a letter imploring California Gov. Jerry Brown to intervene in the state’s handling of contamination around the Exide Technologies plant in Vernon.

The letter criticizing the state’s “piecemeal approach to an urgent environmental hazard” comes as workers paid for by Exide are removing lead-contaminated topsoil from two homes near the intersection of Olympic and Indiana avenues in L.A. 

Signed Tuesday, the letter asks for “guaranteed state funding to immediately begin testing” at 37 more homes also sampled, but to less specific degrees, during November 2013. In the words of the board, “further testing and remediation of the other 37 homes has not been confirmed and may not begin until at least October 2014 because Exide has not yet agreed to comply with DTSC directives issued last March.”


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California Drought News: My burger, my burrito, my poor wallet


Tuesday's drought news makes you question whether waiting so long in the drive-thru line will continue to be worth it.

First, today's dryku:
Burger prices rise
Will we turn to other foods?
Burritos' do too


  • Have you noticed the increased food prices at the grocery store? Well, now you're going to see it at your fast food joints too. In-N-Out and Chipotle are having to raise prices on their food. Starbucks has also.
In-N-Out raised the cost of its hamburgers and cheeseburgers by a dime and their famous Double-Double jumped 15 cents to $3.45. French fries were unchanged but soft drinks went up a nickel. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Oil and Water:

  • They don't mix, but they separate pretty well. The New York Times looks at how an oil field in the Central Valley also pumps 760,000 gallons of water each day that it sells to a local water district. Article goes on to look at the fight over water use in fracking. (NY Times)


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California Drought News: Nosy about groundwater drilling, and nudging your neighbor to save

A 1962 Thousand Oaks survey picture of H.L. Hall Water Well and Test Hole Drilling, and Aitken and Kidder Water Development, by Pat Allen. Water well drilling goes back a century in California, but records are scarce for public viewing.

Monday's news is nosy about your neighbor — and your neighbors' groundwater drilling.

  • More great reporting from the Sacramento Bee on anachronistic problems of transparency in how we manage water in California. Even some well drillers now favor more transparency for groundwater "well logs":
In all other Western states, such records are accessible to whomever wants to see them – from university professors to civil engineers, real estate agents to the media. But in California, well logs are barred from public inspection by a 63-year-old law written to keep data gathered by well-drilling companies from falling into the hands of competitors. “The lack of information about well logs makes no sense, particularly as we are trying hard to manage a diminishing public trust resource,” said Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank in San Francisco. “This is another one of those anachronistic statutes that does not belong in a modern water management system,” Mount said. (Sacramento Bee)


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California Drought News: Food needs higher than anticipated

A screencap from NBCLA of the rapidly spreading, 4,300-acre vegetation fire in the Pope Valley area of Napa County, which by Thursday had destroyed two homes and prompted the mandatory evacuation of hundreds of others.

Today's dryku comes from H. Hanson of Pyro Spectaculars:

Because it's so dry
Professional fireworks shows
Are the way to go

Hanson actually wrote no less than five excellent drykus about the importance of professional fireworks shows during the drought. His company will be doing the fireworks at the Rose Bowl Friday night. You can get more information about that and other shows at our Fireworks FAQ. And remember to keep sending your #drykus to @kpccdryku.


  • Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire burning near Napa. Thousands of acres have burned, and more than 200 homes have been evacuated. Fire officials said the intensity is due to the bone-dry conditions. (KPCC)


  • Tulare County and other areas hit hard by the drought have been providing food assistance to people who've lost work because of the drought. Supplies are running short, because need is more than anticipated.


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California Drought News: Oregon's big move on our Salad Bowl

California cherries.
Flickr Creative Commons/ babi_santander

Food for thought:

  • As food production in the California Salad Bowl withers, growers in Oregon are seeing more business come their way. Many are jumping at the chance:
That means there is a great opportunity to supply a need to grocery markets. “Growers can take advantage of the crops that can be grown here that they won’t grow there,” Penhallegon said. “This would be the year to increase production. (Farmers) just need to find out what is lacking. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers; there is an open door there.” (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
  • Are you enjoying cherry season? Have you noticed how expensive they are? That may be because the harvest is down 75 percent this year. It's because of warm days in the winter. (Capital Public Radio)

Water fight:

  • The Wall Street Journal looks at the fines and citations that more California cities are using to get people to save water. Sacramento is one of the most aggressive when it comes to policing, but it kind of has to be:


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