Salton Sea air quality program support
Challenge: The Salton Sea Air Quality Mitigation (SS AQM) Program was developed by the Imperial Irrigation District to provide a comprehensive, science-based, and adaptive approach to address air quality mitigation requirements associated with the transfer of conserved water under the Quantification Settlement Agreement. The transfer reduces the volume of agricultural return flow to the Salton Sea, thereby exposing the playa and increasing the potential for dust emissions that could affect nearby communities.
Solution: VESTRA worked with Formation Environmental to develop an end-user web application that allows users to download GIS layers for comparison and visualization, which includes: Emissions Inventory and Monitoring Program, Dust Control Strategy and Planning, as well as Dust Control Implementation.
The Emissions Inventory and Monitoring Program will identify the playa surface characteristics and surface mineralogy dynamics that create salt crust conditions vulnerable to erosion. It will also measure the emissions potential of playa surfaces and identify dust source areas. These activities will provide a better understanding of salt crust formation and erosion at the Salton Sea, and ultimately inform dust control planning and implementation. The SS AQM Program will also assess dust emissions from adjacent desert areas to better understand the location and timing of off-sea emissions. Visualizations include: Playa Exposure, Playa Surface Characteristics, Playa Emissions Potential, and the Off-Sea Emissions Inventory.
The proactive dust control strategy is designed to prevent exposed playa from becoming a significant source of PM10 emissions, which will help protect the public health of the communities near and around the Salton Sea. A large part of this strategy is to identify and implement dust control measures (DCMs) on emissive playa surfaces before they reach thresholds that prompt regulatory orders for control studies.
Long-term dust control at the Salton Sea is anticipated to include a mosaic of dust control measures to effectively control dust, minimize water use and maximize habitat. Small-scale dust control pilot studies provide important data regarding the suitability of various measures for the playa. Field scale pilot studies provide experience scaling, adapting, and combining dust control measures at a larger scale. A series of field scale pilot studies will be implemented in early 2017 (see below). Planning is underway for several additional field scale pilot studies in 2017-2018.
Benefit: By having all of the data available within an interactive web application, the Imperial Irrigation District is able to visualize the effects of the playa over time and how this is affecting the air quality surrounding the Salton Sea. The web application gives the ability for users to see the affects over time utilizing a time slider and create a scientific prediction for what could happen in the future.