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Air quality strategies presented to public

A public meeting held Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the Lake County Senior Center presented proposed air quality management strategies developed by a local committee over the past year.

About 30 local residents attended the meeting, which also drew in officials from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality as well as Klamath County Environmental Health.

The meeting focused on a proposed PM Advance Action Plan that is a centerpiece in combating local struggles to meet particulate matter air emission standards as mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

A goal of the plan is to solicit a community-wide effort in thwarting air quality struggles during the winter months, which are often pervaded by inversions that trap stagnant air.

Wood-burning stoveshave been previously identified as a primary culprit in the local struggle to meet PM 2.5 particulate matter emission standards.

The plan focuses on a two-phase approach to the issue.  Phase one would revise open burning guidelines for residents within the urban growth boundary to match that of the Town.

The urban growth boundary, Town Mgr. Ray Simms said, includes territory north to The Greenhouse nursery, west to the Lake County Road Department shops and south to Kadrmas Road where Lakeview Redi-Mix is located.

At present, open burning is banned within the Town of Lakeview between the dates of Nov. 1 and Feb. 28, he said.

Outside of the urban growth boundary, voluntary compliance on open burning would be encouraged on ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ air quality days.  Open burning would still be allowed on ‘green’ days.

Other components of the first phase of the plan include the continued search for funding the change-out of older, non-certified wood stoves.

The second phase of the plan calls for the implementation of stronger management strategies developed through community outreach efforts and public input, Simms said.

The ultimate goal is to keep the management of local air quality voluntary and prevent mandated strategies by the Environmental Protection Agency.Town of Lakeview Mayor Mike Patrick noted that the air quality issue is not limited to the Town.  A designation by the EPA of non-attainment to the PM 2.5 standard would encompass the entire county, he said.

Regarding a suggestion that an air quality monitor be installed in the Westside area for track emissions from that area, Commissioner Ken Kestner agreed it would be helpful in determining impact from outside the town and urban growth boundary.

Larry Calkins, an air quality specialist with the Oregon DEQ, said that such an installation could create further compliance issues locally.

Other concerns pertained to local industrial contributions to the air quality, both existing and potential new developers on the horizon.  Related to this subject were questions on the modeling utilized in the PM Advance Action Plan and how future potential industry is addressed.

The deadline for the submission of the plan is about two weeks away in early March.

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