Air quality slightly improving in Williams Lake

Recent data shows that air quality is slightly improving in Williams Lake.

Williams Lake is seeing desired trends in air quality, says the Ministry of Environment.

Speaking to city council Nov. 20, air quality meteorologist Arvind Saraswat said fine particulate matter PM2.5 and coarse particulate matter PM10 are the main areas of concern in the city and that there has been a clear decline in the levels of both.

“The PM 2.5 levels measured at Columneetza and the Cariboo Regional District library sites show they have been within our objective and both sites show a slight decreasing trend. That’s great news. The trends are not huge in magnitude, but in the right direction.”

Saraswat said although the number of PM10 exceeding incidents are higher at the CRD site than at Columneetza because of influence of local traffic and road dust, overall the levels have declined.

Increases normally occur in the spring when the winter road materials are still present.

Saraswat said episode management is recommended when the valley experiences inversions. Home owners are encouraged to use cleaner fuels, such as switching from wood stoves to natural gas. Industry is also encouraged to switch to natural gas if possible.

Dust control measures include managing road dust as well as dust from unpaved surfaces and from permitted industrial operations.

An independently conducted air shed management plan review has been in progress since September and should be completed in Feb. 2013.

“We have two sets of objectives we’re working with — provincial objectives and those of the air shed management plan. We are meeting the provincial objectives but are not meeting the air shed management plan objectives at the CRD site.”

Councillor Sue Zacharias said it was “heartening” to see the levels coming down.

I was on the committee in 2008 and it’s gratifying to see the results. Statistics show it has gone down and show there are active stakeholders from the community and businesses that generate particulate matter helping. It’s  been a team approach that is obviously paying off.”

Coun. Surinderpal Rathor told Saraswat he is interested in any data from the South Lakeside area and asked when the city could expect to see those results.

Recently air quality monitoring equipment was installed on the roof of the Williams Lake fire hall, however, data from it hasn’t been made available yet. “There’s a time lag because it’s a non-continuous station and filters go to Burnaby for sampling. Once we have the results we will certainly share them,” Saraswat said.