More Criticism for Comite Civico-Students Found To Be At Risk-Comite Civico Takes No Action – Desert Sun: Who monitors the monitors? Toxic air alerts went unnoticed

An air monitor at Seeley Elementary School show extremely unhealthful levels of particles in the air, but no one alerted neighbors of school leaders. Now, the same program will be coming to the Coachella Valley.

Neighbors of Seeley Elementary School might have been breathing toxic amounts of dust for weeks during the summer, based on the readings of an air monitor put up at the school by a nonprofit. Despite the sky-high measurements — more than 40 times what the World Health Organization considers a healthy level for PM10 air pollution — no one took action and neighbors were left unaware of the danger.

Now, Comite Civico del Valle, a nonprofit based in Brawley that operates these monitors, is using state funds as it expands its network of monitors to the eastern Coachella Valley, where the same thing could happen again.

Comite Civico says the organization’s goal is to turn community concerns into research — and not necessarily action.

“Everything we did was based on community concerns,” said Humberto Lugo, who manages the organization’s air-monitoring program. “Community concerns (were) that there was not enough regulatory data and not enough air-quality data out there to really make informed decisions about your everyday activities and kind of just understand what’s happening in different neighborhoods throughout the Imperial County.”

Lugo said the organization shares the data it collects through its system of monitors with research partners and legislators, who can use the information to advocate for better regulations and enforcement on sources of air pollution. But in the short term, it is unclear who is tasked with informing the community when monitors show dangerously high pollution levels, just like the one in Seeley did over the summer.

PM10, particulate matter that is 10 micrometers or smaller, could be dust particles or moisture small enough to lodge in the lungs. Six to 10 particles that small can fit across the diameter of a human hair, according to the California Air Resources Board.

According to Lugo, his team was aware of the over 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter averages of PM10 recorded by the school’s monitor, but chalked it up to the construction of a new gym on campus. Up to 20 micrograms per cubic meter is considered a safe level by the World Health Organization.

School was out for the summer, and no action was taken. But as students began filing in for their first week of school in August, the monitor continued to register levels over 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter of pollution. Administrators, educators, parents and students at Seeley said they had no idea.

When The Desert Sun reached out to staff at Seeley Elementary, school officials were unaware of the purpose of the monitor on their campus.

However, they are aware of the often dangerous levels of pollution in the area, and the school has used a flag system to create awareness of the day’s air quality levels. Based on the air quality, the school would raise a flag, colored green, yellow, orange or red to indicate whether it was safe to be outside.

Even though they had a monitor on the campus, Seeley School District Superintendent Cecilia Dial said her staff relied on regional, less granular data provided by the county.

Dial said Lugo’s organization never explained how the monitor could be used by the school or where staffers could access the data it collects. “The monitor was just there as another access point to gather data,” Dial explained.

Students leave Seeley Elementary School on Monday, September 25, 2018 in Seeley, CA. The school is a site for a air pollution monitor operated by the nonprofit Comite Civico del Valle. (Photo: Richard Lui/The Desert Sun)

Please click here to read the entire article.

By Ray Dorantes at KYMA: Over 200 million dollars for Salton Sea restoration project

EL CENTRO, Calif. – Over $200 million dollars from Proposition 68 and state funds are being invested in the Salton Sea. State officials at a press conference said they’re working to prevent a regional environmental disaster.

California State Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia hold a press conference in El Centro.

West Shores Vice-Mayor Mark Gertz said it’s about time because the area is becoming a major health hazard.

“Because the lives of the residents and the flora and fauna of the Salton Sea basin are life-depending upon that. The local high school in Salton Sea has four times the state level of asthma. School children in mecca are getting nosebleeds and asthma much higher than the state levels,” Gertz said.

Senator Ben Hueso, 40th Senate Disctrict, said he understand the problem.

“It’s not just a Riverside or Imperial Problem, it’s a statewide problem that people should be very concerned about not addressing,” Hueso said.

State Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia explained the allocation of the funds.

“It’s broken down into a 170 million dollars that will go directly to the Salton Sea management program for this first phase of this 10-year plan. It is 30 million dollars that will go directly to the Salton Sea authority to begin these efforts immediately. And then ten million of those will go towards the 20 million-dollar cost of cleaning up the new river,” Garcia said.

Gertz appreciates the amount but said that it’s not enough to solve a problem that has a price tag in the billions.

“This will not fund all of the ten-year plan. To not address the sea at large is going to incur long-term disastrous results,” Gertz said.

You can read the complete story and watch a video here.

Who Controls Distribution of the Imperial Valley’s Water?

While looking around the Internet we came across this great article on The Desert Review by Brian McNeece. Please read it as it is a very important take on the water in the Imperial Valley.

Some locals have asked, “What does it matter who controls the water?”  It matters a lot.  Farmers rightly claim that they contribute the majority of value to

Farmland in the Imperial Valley

the local economy. They also claim that if they were to control the water, the Imperial Valley would be in good hands….

If you are one of about 500 farmers here, being in control of the water sounds mighty sweet, but if you’re among the other 179,500 residents of Imperial County, you might want those decisions to be made by elected representatives sworn to uphold the public good.

Link to the article at The Desert Review is here.

 

2018 Energy & Sustainability Summit

Leadership in an Era of Rollbacks & Setbacks

Overview
In 2017, after years of forward progress, the globe took a step backward as some of the world’s most important environmental protections were loosened and jeopardized. At the same time, last year saw the global transition to clean energy intensify as well as a renewed focus on public-private partnerships to advance environmental sustainability.
With the cost of renewables continuing to fall at an unprecedented rate, policy makers and business leaders increasingly feel emboldened to advance concrete commitments and work to accelerate climate action, even in the face of determined efforts to prolong the inevitable transition to clean energy. While the U.S. government pulled out of the Paris Agreement, American businesses resoundingly said “We’re still in”, and over 50 U.S. cities put forward ambitious timetables for getting to 100% clean energy.
Business is also advancing environmental sustainability and looking to increase profitability while reducing dependence on natural resources in a constrained world. Additionally, companies are looking to align their corporate strategy with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals; realizing the SDGs, it’s projected, could create upwards of 350 million jobs and opportunities worth $12 trillion across a range of sectors.

Join Us on May 24! Silicon Valley Energy & Sustainability Summit 2018
Join us on May 24 at Oracle to learn about the latest policy and regulatory developments and to explore how to employ the latest innovative technologies and practices to create lasting value and explore what you can do on a practical level to prepare for an evolving landscape. The 6th Annual Silicon Valley Energy and Sustainability Summit will include C-Suite plenaries, policy round tables and case studies, all focused on the business case for clean and efficient energy, environmental sustainability, water conservation and climate action. The event brings together policy experts, elected and appointed officials, business executives and NGO leaders for a series of thoughtful and engaging discussions.

IID, CAISO settlement promotes local renewable energy development

March 9, 2018

CONTACT: Antonio Ortega (760) 604-1092

IID, CAISO settlement promotes local renewable energy development

Imperial Irrigation District and the California Independent System Operator announced this week the two parties have reached a settlement that ends existing litigation between them.

As a result, more climate-friendly energy from the IID service area can be delivered to the rest of California.

“For IID, this has always been about ensuring basic fairness, a level playing field and protecting our balancing authority and our ratepayers for the sustained benefit of the region,” said Kevin Kelley, IID general manager.

As part of the settlement, CAISO has agreed to upgrade one of IID’s power lines (S-Line) that will allow more electricity to flow from the Imperial Valley to other markets. CAISO has also agreed to do more to help promote geothermal development, a priority for the district, in the Salton Sea Known Geothermal Resource Area.

Both parties also agreed to establish a local coordination working group to address important issues that may arise in the future.

Resolving the dispute gives the parties a common platform to move forward on issues that both agencies care about, Kelley added.

Located in what is considered  the “renewable energy capital of the world” IID can serve as a conduit for renewable energy development in the west, helping California meet its aggressive renewable energy and climate goals while creating added economic development and job opportunities in a region that desperately needs them.

 

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Dead Seas

The following article appeared on E&E News. We are posting this article because it highlights the work of an incredible public health champion, Aide Munguia-Fullton, a nurse that runs the Imperial Valley Child Asthma Program. A local leader in environmental justice.

The Imperial Valley Child Asthma Program (IVCAP) is a community-based grant-funded program, the only program in the Imperial County designed to improve the quality of life of children ages 0-18, with special emphasis on low-income Latino families with children ages 0-5 who suffer from asthma. Tthe program seeks to prevent or reduce hospitalizations by enhancing parental asthma management skills through care coordination, case management education, home visitations, community education, and encouraging the adoption of standards of care for asthma among medical professionals What is special about our program is the unique partnerships that allows IVCAP to provide essential asthma management coordination services to both local hospital emergency rooms, pediatric departments, and the coordination of referral services to local pediatricians and clinics. Another important aspect of the program is the asthma staff participations in different coalitions created to advocate clean air policies and a healthier environment for asthmatics.
Aide Munguia-Fullton of the Imperial Valley Child Asthma Program

DEAD SEAS
Shrinking lake spawns public health nightmare

IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. — A dust bowl is coming, and people here are scared.

Aide Munguia-Fulton, a nurse who runs a community program for children with asthma, has been seeing referrals for assistance soar in the last three years as the Salton Sea has begun receding due to water management schemes and a persistent drought.

Receiving 400 referrals last year alone, Munguia-Fulton has funding to enroll no more than 200 kids a year. She’s managed to include more children, but she knows the lake is expected to shrivel more quickly starting at the end of 2017, exposing thousands of acres of a dusty, toxin-laced salt bed and exacerbating already high asthma rates.

Munguia-Fulton has worked here for more than two decades, and, three years ago, she too was diagnosed with asthma. Just as she tells her patients, she hides indoors from unrelenting dust on windy days. She carries a dust mask with her at all times.

She doesn’t know how the cash-strapped area will cope if air quality continues to deteriorate.

“I am so concerned for our hospitals that are going to suffer the heavy loads,” Munguia-Fulton said. “We have to be prepared. And I know we are not.”

The recession of California’s largest lake (350 square miles) is exposing a lake bed saturated with arsenic, lead, cadmium and other toxins. By the end of 2017, the shrinking will accelerate under terms of state-backed water transfer from this agricultural area to coastal San Diego (Greenwire, June 13).

More than 100 square miles of toxic salt flat could be uncovered in the coming decades. The Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates that by 2045, the lake bed could be putting 100 tons of dust per day into the air.

That dust — called coarse particulate matter by regulators — is by nature dangerous because it can penetrate deeply into the lungs. It will make breathing even more difficult in an area whose air quality already ranks among the nation’s worst because of dust from farms and desert.

That pollution is broadcast from this remote corner of southeast California by frequent wind storms whose gusts hit 80 mph.

It’s a “really salty dust, it burns your eyes,” said Bruce Wilcox of the California Natural Resources Agency. “It only lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. But it’s the longest 15 to 20 minutes of your life if you are standing in it.”

Winds carry that dust toward some 650,000 people — a population that’s expected to double in the next 30 years.

Hit hardest by prevailing north-to-south winds is the Imperial County near the Mexico border. With the state’s highest childhood asthma rates, the county is more than 80 percent Hispanic, suffers a 20 percent unemployment rate and nearly more than 1 in 3 of its children live in poverty.

North of the Salton Sea, asthma rates are also high as shifting winds carry dust there.

And new data suggest asthma rates are rising closer to the lake, local health officials say.

You can read the complete article here.

KPBS: The Shrinking Salton Sea Endangers Region’s Health

The Shrinking Salton Sea Endangers Region’s Health

Monday, January 15, 2018

West Shores High School principal Richard Pimentel slips on a cowboy hat before stepping outside. It is a nod to fashion as a response to the region’s harsh desert sun.

The school sits about halfway up the western side of California’s Salton Sea. Modern buildings, concrete patios and walkways and an artificial turf sports field stand in stark contrast to the desert community that surrounds the campus.

Tumbleweed and sand are common fixtures of the town’s yards.

“We are about 30 miles from anywhere,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel’s manner is relaxed and comfortable as he walks among his students during lunchtime.

A smile, a question or a joke come easily.

The Salton Sea at Red Hill Marina

“They’re my kids,” Pimentel said. “You have to take responsibility and ownership of that. These folks have entrusted me with the welfare of their kids. It’s a big deal.”

RELATED: A Look At The Incredible Shrinking Salton Sea

Dust swirls in windy desert valley

Pimentel can guide and encourage, but he cannot shield his students from the dust that swirls in this windy desert valley.

“Any time there’s any kind of a wind, you see the dust clouds,” Pimentel said.

The dust in those clouds contribute to the Imperial Valley’s highest in the state asthma rates, and most people who live here expect things to get worse. That is because the Salton Sea is shrinking, exposing thousands of acres of possibly toxic lakebed to the hot sun and the region’s powerful winds.

Inside the nurse’s office at West Shores High, Pimentel unlocks a metal cabinet. It contains plastic bags from more than 40 of his students who need to bring prescription medicine to school so they can cope with their asthma.

He holds one up and looks through the translucent material.

You can continue reading this great article here.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia Celebrates 2017 Legislative Victories and Outlines Priorities for New Year

This is an excerpt from a press release posted on Imperial Valley News:

CA Parks/Salton Sea

With the success of SB 5 – Park Bond voters across our state will soon have

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso

the opportunity to invest $4 billion for parks, recreation and safe drinking water with 20% of the bonds funding designated for disadvantaged

communities. This measure additionally allocates $200 million dollars to fund the 10-Year Salton Sea Management Plan, $10 million for the New River parkway and specifically prioritizes funding for Imperial County State Fairground improvements.

“By bringing human health impacts to the forefront of these conversations we have been able to garner greater state support and resources toward Salton Sea mitigation.”

Climate Change/Air Quality

“The passage of AB 398 – Cap-and-Trade Reform  and AB 617 – Air Quality established a comprehensive, statewide program that will allow us to achieve our ambitious climate goals, while ensuring the market stability necessary to retain industry jobs and address vital public health and air quality issues. Importantly, these measures will help further climate equity in disadvantaged areas and directs the Air Resources Board to help region air districts to identify communities in need of air quality monitors; often low income communities of color that historically have been disproportionately impacted by pollution. The community plans developed will be essential to mitigating problems and improving air quality for our families”

“We will continue to fight for our region to receive its fair share of climate investment funds.”

You can read the entire list of accomplishments by clicking here.