California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, has been sustained by water from the Colorado River which irrigates Imperial Valley farms and drain into the lake. But the Salton Sea will start shrinking rapidly at the end of this year, when increasing amounts of water will be diverted to San Diego and Coachella Valley. As the lake shrinks, particulate matter in the form of dust storms will increasingly blow from the exposed lakebed, polluting the Imperial Valley’s already dirty air and intensify a public health crisis.
To address this complex issue, LDF has partnered with a group that has been working in Imperial County since 1987 to improve the lives of communities located in the Salton Sea Air Basin. In 2016, Comite Civico del Valle (CCV) launched the largest air monitoring network in the U.S., an environmental justice project that fills in gaps in the data collected by government agencies and allows people to sign up for local air pollution alerts. The network, Identifying Violations Affecting Communities or IVAN, is shifting the conversation in California. The goal has been is to institutionalize this type of monitoring as the most feasible approach to getting real time information to communities on the changing climate, fill data gaps by more affordably deploying greater monitoring density, and collect data that can be used for performance measures for programs that are intended to reduce greenhouse gasses and to measure real-time results of climate investments in disadvantaged communities.
Through CCV’s diligent work and relationship building with California state officials, they have successfully advocated for AB 617, a bill mandating air monitoring for a larger variety of pollutants and the creation of community emissions reduction programs. These programs will include emissions reduction targets, reduction measurements, and an implementation and enforcement plan. CCV has been chosen as the community partner for the Imperial Valley and is an exemplary organization for the rest of California.