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The New River is shown where it crosses the international border from Mexico into the United States in Calexico. | KENNY ROBERTSON PHOTO

Imperial County-AB 617 New River Air-Monitoring Project to Start

CALEXICO — Although the New River, as it runs through this city, is known for its high levels of water-borne pollutants, a new monitoring system will be put in place to measure the level of contaminants in the air.

In keeping with the tenets of Assembly Bill 617 and its community-based projects for air-pollution monitoring and mitigation along the El Centro-Heber-Calexico corridor, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, seated as the Air Pollution Control Board, on Tuesday, April 13 approved an agreement with a monitoring-service provider to document and analyze air-quality data near the New River at a site in Calexico.

An agreement with Sonoma Technology Inc. not to exceed $335,322 was approved to implement the “New River Pollutant Monitoring Project” in Calexico, according to a county press release.

“I thank our Board of Supervisors for supporting this project that will benefit the community of Calexico and our Imperial Valley,” said Matt Dessert, Imperial County Air Pollution Control officer and co-chair of the AB 617 Community Steering Committee. “I’d also like to commend our AB 617 Community Steering Committee for their hard work and collaboration in identifying this project and seeing it come to fruition.”

The committee, during its Feb. 10 meeting, chose Sonoma Technology Inc. of Petaluma for the project to assist the Air Pollution Control District in satisfying a key goal of its Community Air Monitoring Plan for the AB 617 program. Sonoma was the most cost-effective choice and satisfying all necessary requirements (of AB 617 projects), according to the release.

Sonoma Technology will collect high-quality measurements of various air pollutants for a duration of six months at one location in proximity to the New River. Additionally, STI will perform data analysis, draft a final report, and present a summary of findings to the AB 617 Community Steering Committee, which is made up of county and social justice officials, but most importantly, residents who live in the corridor.

Contingent on the findings and actions recommended by the committee, the APCD will determine the next steps on addressing this potential emissions source that is a concern of the community, the press release states. The project is expected to begin data collection in August and conclude January 2022.

“The Board of Supervisors applauds these efforts by our dedicated community members of the AB 617 steering committee. Through AB 617 and the work of our APCD, the county is committed in supporting whatever actions necessary to make cleaner air a reality for all those within our county,” said county board Chair and District 3 Supervisor Michael W. Kelley. 

As part of the AB 617 program, the Air Pollution Control District collaborates with Comite Civico del Valle and community members to develop air-monitoring and emissions-reductions plans designed around local air-quality concerns. The program was established in the El Centro-Heber Calexico community corridor in 2018.

The New River Pollutant Monitoring Project is funded through the AB 617 California Air Resources Board Community Air Protection Program and will have no impact to the county General Fund, according to the release.

For more information, please visit the El Centro-Heber-Calexico AB 617 website at www.icab617community.org.