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Local leaders urge SCAQMD to acknowledge and help address worsened air quality conditions post-Hilary

Local leaders urging SCAQMD to acknowledge and help address worsened Coachella Valley air quality conditions post-Hillary

If you think the Coachella Valley's air quality has worsened following Tropical Storm Hilary, you're not alone.

The Coachella Valley Association of Governments has also taken notice and is pushing for some new solutions to all the wind-blown dust most Coachella Valley residents agree has gotten worse following the August 2023 storm.

At a recent meeting with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, local leaders say they were told that Coachella Valley air quality measurements had returned to what was considered normal by that agency's standards.

Local leaders though say that's simply not true. 

CVAG Executive Director Tom Kirk told KESQ News Channel 3, "​​​​​​​They continue to say it has returned to normal me and others disagree. Those who visit know. It has serious health and economic consequences."

He also noted the impacts to the public’s welfare are clearly noticeable as aerosolized particles produce a persistent haze that remains visible well after higher winds have passed.

In a letter sent to the SCAQMD Kirk suggested the agency's monitoring methods are inadequate and do not account for high dust pollution numbers that are often elevated in our afternoon and evening hours, but not for a full 24-hour period, therefore considered okay. 

The letter stated, "Because these high levels did not coincide with a midnight-to-midnight 24-hour period, these days might go unreported as an exceedance of federal air quality standards. However, these concentrations represent severe exposure across two afternoons and evenings, exposing residents and visitors to hazardous air quality conditions."


Riverside County 4th District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said, "South Coast does care I think about how we can work together to better air quality for our people."

Local cities and Caltrans responded to the increased wind-blown dust threat by applying soil stabilizer wherever possible around low-lying areas and sought financial relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Another meeting to discuss air pollution concerns from wind-blown dust was scheduled for June 18.

Kirk, Perez, and other local leaders representing every city in the Coachella Valley say they hope SCAQMD will offer more aid and monitoring for potential solutions.

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Jeff Stahl

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