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.

Calipat Sides With The Coalition

From KXO Radio:

Written by George Gale Published: 26 September 2018

(The City of Calipatria the latest to support the IID)…The City Council adopted a resolution Tuesday.

The resolution supports and joins the Americus Brief to be filed by the Imperial Valley Coalition For Fair Sharing of Water in the Abatti Versus Imperial Irrigation District litigation. The litigation deals with the IID’s water rights for water distribution in Imperial County. The Abatti Lawsuit contends the District does not have the right to distribute the water and that the water rights belong to local growers. The District contends they hold the water in trust for all water users in the county. The City of Calipatria is the latest to side with the coalition and the Americus Brief they plan to file in support of the IID’s legal efforts. The Coalition says they will seek support from the County Board of Supervisors at one of their October meetings, either on the 2nd or the 9th.

Imperial Valley Press: IID pushing forward on plan to place additional water in Lake Mead

The Imperial Irrigation District is working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the other Colorado River Basin States to create a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). Below is a clip from the Imperial Valley Press regarding IID and the DCP:

IID representatives, along with members of the various Colorado River water contractors, on Sept. 17 and 18 participated in a basin states meeting in Las Vegas hosted by the bureau to explore the creation of a basin-wide DCP.

Brenda Burman is the Bureau of Reclamation's 23rd Commissioner
Commissioner Brenda Burman

“I attended the Colorado River meeting in Las Vegas to discuss the drought contingency plan process with the two basins and seven states that are in this process and identify critical next steps,” IID Board President James C. Hanks, Division 3, said during the regular board meeting Tuesday afternoon. “These meetings were led by Reclamation Commissioner Brenda W. Burman, and I can report that while there is still no DCP, there is considerable interest on the part of the Bureau of Reclamation … in completing one before the year’s end.”

IID is exploring the creation of a DCP in concert with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that would expand how much water it can store behind Hoover Dam in Lake Mead. The DCP would only be approved by IID if it were to ensure that such water can be withdrawn on demand, that the authority to unilaterally preside over local agricultural water conservation methods are solely the purview of IID and that such an agreement would not put the Salton Sea at further risk of drying up due to lower water inflow.

The article can be read here.

The Desert Review: IID and country residents rise up to stop an unwanted solution

The following clip is from an article in The Desert Review, posted on their website on September 28.

IID Director Jim Hanks mentioned during the August 27 meeting in Brawley that the organizations needed to be more careful in their presentations.

“This is why you saw a lot of defensive people here,” Hanks said, referring to the majority of the people in the room. “You were talking about the drinking water, and then you were talking about water in the canals that run off from the fields. Runoff from the fields are not in the canals, those are in the drains.”

The lack of knowledge of Comite Civico investigators of the details of water delivery and water waste from fields led many to doubt the scientific expertise of those gathering information.

The organizations said they planned on using citizen-scientists to provide the data.

IID Water Manager Tina Shields said she questioned the methodology of collecting water samples.

Shields said the proposed study by Comite Civico and the University of Washington failed to employ trained experts to collect accurate samples, and that without proper training, the collectors could even self-contaminate the samples.

The IID went further, claiming the organizations sought to usurp the scientific work local agencies were tasked to conduct. The IID charged that Comite Civico has failed to produce a scope of work for their study.

Many people who attended the informational meetings held in late August questioned the organization staff’s apparent lack of any formal scientific training.

The complete article is available by clicking here.

Holtville resident encouraging Imperial County residents to back the Imperial Irrigation

Holtville resident and former county supervisor Wally Leimgruber is encouraging Imperial County residents to back the Imperial Irrigation

Businessman and Holtville resident
Wally Leimgruber

District’s appeal to litigation he argues may jeopardize the district’s authority over precious Colorado River water.

“As a property owner with over 28 years in the farming industry and now involved in land-use consulting, I am respectfully requesting you join with me and other business and civic leaders in filing an amicus brief in support of IID’s position in the appeal,” Leimgruber wrote in a letter he is sharing with county residents.

… Meanwhile, members of the El Centro City Council at its Sept. 4 meeting voiced support for Leimgruber when he presented his group’s position.

El Centro city council member Cheryl Viegas-Walker

“Without access to water there is no reason for Imperial Valley to exist,” Mayor Cheryl Viegas-Walker said, commenting from a remote location by

speakerphone. “Water must be held in trust for future generations. I personally endorse this amicus brief.”

Also offering encouragement, Council Member Efrain Silva said, “Without water Imperial Valley becomes the next Death Valley. Wally, you have my full support and we should go as far as we can go.”

Complete article here: https://www.holtvilletribune.com/single-post/2018/09/25/Farm-Group-Voices-Support-For-IID-in-Water-Flap

City allegedly misused anniversary event money

This is disturbing on so many levels. Calexico needs to do something about the mayor misappropriating funds that were meant for the City’s 100th anniversary. Reminds me of the scandal the police department had a few years ago when the FBI was confiscating files. Maybe law enforcement should be looking at this…

Read the story by Roy Dorantes (below) that was posted on the KYMA website on August 24 yourself, and be sure to watch the video by clicking here. Additionally, please call Calexico City and ask for a copy of the report (hope I see it on Facebook soon!).  Their number is (760) 768-2110.

City allegedly misused anniversary event money

CALEXICO, Calif. – A Calexico economic commissioner said the city used funds collected for the city’s 110th anniversary in April for other events not part of the celebration.

Commissioner Ben Horton said, “Financed the Mayor’s Summit which ran up to about $3,638 which the public was not aware of this, which the public was not permitted to be involved with.”

Calexico Mayor Maritza Hurtado

A Calexico city official who didn’t want to be named admits some money donated for the anniversary was used for the mayor’s conference. An event closed to the public, but he said it was approved by the sponsor who donated the funds. He showed us an email as proof.

Horton questions why the community was not informed of that.

“The public was under the impression that this money was going to be used exclusively for the 110th anniversary.”

The city official also said no city employees worked on the event. Horton disagrees with that statement.

“And then, I find out that city employees were used to work on the event, which originally the 100th event was supposed to be no cost to the city, which there was cost to the city and hours or comp times

Horton questions why the expense list was not made public sooner.

“I would say the public was misled, and they were misled to the point that the money was used for other activities that they were not aware of,” Horton said.

The report that shows how the money was spent item by item is freely available to the public at Calexico City Hall.

Unemployment in Imperial County

The following is from a daily email, The Nooner, by Scott Lay (please note that information has been deleted from the original email for space):

CA ECONOMY: On Friday, we received generally good employment news for the Golden State. The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.2%, That’s a decline of 0.5% from July 2017. July saw a net game on 46,700 net jobs from June. The labor force increase by 113,000, which combined with the unemployment rate, paints a very good picture.

Of the eight economic sectors tracked, only construction (-1,200) and financial services (-900) experienced declines. The top three month-over-month increases were in numbers were professional and business services (15,100), trade, transportation and utilities (11,200), and leisure and hospitality (9,500).

Five counties with the lowest unemployment in July (not seasonally adjusted):

  1. San Mateo: 2.3% (-0.9% from July 2017)
  2. San Francisco: 2.4% (-1.0% from July 2017)
  3. Marin: 2.5% (-0.9% from July 2017)
  4. Napa: 2.9% (-1.0% from July 2017)
  5. Sonoma: 2.9% (-1.0% from July 2017)

Five counties with the highest unemployment in July (not seasonally adjusted):

  1. Imperial: 19.3% (-4.9% from July 2017)
  2. Colusa: 10.5% (-1.1% from July 2017)
  3. Tulare: 9.3% (-1.5% from July 2017)
  4. Kern: 8.1% (-1.6% from July 2017)
  5. Merced: 8.1% (-1.6% from July 2017)