Elemental: Covering Sustainability

A multimedia collaboration between public radio and public television stations in Colorado, Arizona and California.

Arizona farmers face tough choices planning for water cuts

PHOENIX – Farmers are in a tough spot as Arizona continues critical negotiations over expected cuts in Colorado River water allocations. Farmers in Pinal County might be in an even tougher spot. Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the Colorado River system, is likely to be “in shortage” in 2020. A shortage declaration from the ...

Oct. 9, 2018
Central Arizona farmers face tough choices planning for water cuts

PHOENIX – Farmers between Phoenix and Tucson, in Pinal County, are in a tough spot as Arizona continues critical negotiations over expected cuts in Colorado River water allocations. Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the Colorado River system, is likely to be “in shortage” in 2020. A shortage declaration from the Bureau of Reclamation would ...

Oct. 9, 2018
Coloradans increasingly identify as ‘conservationist,’ but will that drive them to the polls?

Kirk Klancke’s voting past makes him a unique political animal. It has nothing to do with his party affiliation as a longtime registered Republican in Grand County, Colorado. What’s different is that he has defined his politics based on water conservation and the environment. “Keeping our environment healthy has to be one of the most ...

Oct. 5, 2018
Treatment plant battles leaking sewage pipe, heavy metals that kill key microbes

NOGALES – A transborder pipeline that brings millions of gallons of raw sewage from Mexico to the U.S. faces challenges on two fronts. The pipe is nearly 70 years old and increasingly prone to leaksand heavy metals in the wastewater are causing problems at the Arizona plant where it’s treated. Every day, 14 million gallons ...

Oct. 3, 2018
Why do we keep building houses in places that burn down?

It’s a real-estate paradox: The most desirable places to live also are among the most susceptible to wildfires. Mansions in the Santa Monica Mountains, tiny cabins tucked into the Angeles National Forest and homes at the edges of subdivisions all are beautiful because they’re surrounded by undeveloped land. But that land is a tinderbox. Every ...

Oct. 2, 2018
Congress fails to renew federal Land and Conservation Fund

APACHE JUNCTION – Richard Bruner loves Lost Dutchman State Park, nestled at the base of the Superstition Mountains. “Just the beauty of it. It’s amazing out here,” the retired Floridian said after a 5-mile morning walk. “When you get higher up, you can hear the wind blow. When there’s nobody around, there’s no sounds. There’s ...

Sep. 30, 2018
Water thieves of the West take notice: This sheriff’s deputy is watching

MONTEZUMA COUNTY, Colorado – One Sunday morning several years ago Dave Huhn got a call. He’s usually off work that day, but it was the height of irrigation season and decided to answer. The woman on the other end was frantic, screaming as she watched her 82-year-old husband from the window. Their 86-year-old neighbor was ...

Sep. 25, 2018
Intel promises to restore 100 percent of its water use. What does that mean?

PHOENIX – You may be familiar with carbon offsets, where companies or schools try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in one area to make up for emissions elsewhere. More and more, corporations are also trying to offset the water they use. Intel, for one, announced a water restoration goal last year: to restore a hundred ...

Sep. 24, 2018
Partnership between barley farmers and beer makers saves water

CAMP VERDE – Zach Hauser, like many farmers in the Verde Valley, takes pride in his land and the crops he grows. Normally this time of year, rows of corn, alfalfa, carrots and watermelon would cover his acreage. But today, two sections of his property look like a farmer’s worst nightmare: fallow land strewn with ...

Sep. 21, 2018
Art installation highlights plastic bottle use

CULVER CITY, California – Ever wonder how many recyclable bottles and cans you consume every year, or what it might look like if you tossed them all into one big pile? The Container Recycling Institute (CRI), based in Culver City, California, took the latest statistics on how many beverages people buy in plastic bottles, aluminum ...

Sep. 20, 2018
Helium producer leases land near Petrified Forest in Arizona, concerning environmentalists

PHOENIX – A Canadian energy company will add to its helium operation with more than 3,000 acres of newly leased federal land near Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. But an environmental group and Arizona U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran worry that operations could threaten key water sources and at least two endangered species. Desert ...

Sep. 18, 2018
Questions about Navajo Generating Station’s future lead to more protests

UPDATE: On Friday, September 21, investors that had expressed interest in taking over the west’s largest coal fired power plant, the Navajo Generating Station, have ended their efforts to acquire it, according to the Fronteras Desk’s Laurel Morales. New York-based Avenue Capital and Chicago-based Middle River Power, showed initial interest, but ultimately said they could ...

Sep. 13, 2018
Caltech scientist uses drones to herd birds away from airplanes

LOS ANGELES – The danger birds pose to airplanes is no joke. In the past four years just at Los Angeles International Airport, birds and other wildlife hit aircraft more than 500 times, according to Federal Aviation Administration data. At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, wildlife hit aircraft more than 230 times from August 2014 ...

Sep. 10, 2018
China ups ante in trade war, imposes tariff that could doom U.S. paper recycling

PHOENIX – Most of the headlines from the trade war between China and the United States have focused on tariffs on aluminum and steel, but China also has placed a levy on recycled paper pulp. While not as well known, the tariff could bankrupt an already taxed recycling industry in the United States. China’s latest ...

Sep. 6, 2018
Los Angeles seeks sustainable solutions for homeless

LOS ANGELES – About 60,000 people are homeless in LA. Experts say it’s the worst city in the nation when it comes to homelessness. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has declared homelessness in this city a state of emergency. Garcetti says providing sustainable housing is the best solution. “Housing to me is the prism through which ...

Sep. 5, 2018
From neon orange to chocolate brown: The West’s unluckiest river takes a beating

DURANGO, Colo. – In early August 2015, Barb Horn stood on a bank of the Animas River, waiting for mine waste spilled upstream to reach the city. She and hundreds of others waited hours for the waste plume to appear, but darkness fell. The next morning, she saw the change. “It was absolutely surreal,” Horn ...

Aug. 31, 2018
Beavers: An unlikely ally in the battle against drought in the West

LANDERS, Wyo. – It’s no secret that water is a problem in the West. But what isn’t as well-known is the role the humble beaver has played in helping to maintain wetlands and ponds across the arid landscape. Their populations were decimated during the fur trade in the 20th century and their numbers dropped dramatically ...

Aug. 29, 2018
Traffic continues to be huge air polluter – but local politics makes it hard to say no to new roads.

LOS ANGELES – Based on the annual 2018 “State of the Air” report from The American Lung Association, Los Angeles was ranked the top city spot for high ozone days out of 227 metropolitan locations. Arizonans should be concerned too as the Grand Canyon state ranked eighth in the same category. And during the summer ...

Aug. 28, 2018
Record temps, fishing closures mark unusual summer in Colorado’s High Country

It’s been a hot summer across Colorado — and while usually residents can escape to the many streams or lakes to cool down, this year is different. When the water gets hot, it’s hard on the fish and fisherman. Record warmth in the Yampa and White river basins in northwest Colorado is stressing out fish ...

Aug. 27, 2018
Kombucha couture: Arizona designer looks to grow her own clothing

TEMPE – You smell it before you see it. As Galina Mihaleva opens the door to a former teachers’ lounge at the School of Art at Arizona State University, the pungent, sweet-and-sour aroma of fermenting tea assaults the senses. Inside the lounge is a makeshift lab where dozens of plastic containers, some open and others ...

Aug. 21, 2018

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