AQMD Responds To Stinky Salton Sea Smell With Proposal

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Photo by Mark Sigmon
Photo by Mark Sigmon of fish die off at Salton Sea

 

On Sept. 9, a strong thunderstorm over the Salton Sea caused odors to be released into the air and transported via weather conditions across the Southland, including over the Temecula and Lake Elsinore valleys.

In response to September’s rotten-egg stench that wafted over Southern California from the Salton Sea, the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s governing board is scheduled to vote on spending in excess of $200,000 to monitor future stinky smells, according to the Lake Elsinor-Wildomar Patch.

If approved Friday, the AQMD board will issue a Request For Quotation for installing two “hydrogen sulfide monitoring stations” at the Salton Sea. The stations, proposed in Mecca and on Torres-Martinez tribal land, would evaluate sulfur-containing gases released from the area.

According to AQMD documents, the primary objective of the monitoring network would be to provide data that can be used “to assess population exposures in case of odor events and for comparison to state standards for hydrogen sulfide.”

The system could be enhanced to monitor emissions that affect South Coast air basin particulate matter levels, which could help officials with mitigation efforts, the documents state.

The maximum initial first year estimated cost – not including staffing – is $193,772, the documents show. Ongoing equipment costs are estimated at $5,600 per year, according to the documents.

On Sept. 9, a strong thunderstorm over the Salton Sea caused odors to be released into the air and transported via weather conditions across the Southland, including over the Temecula and Lake Elsinore valleys. The AQMD reports it received more than 235 complaints of sulfur and rotten-egg odors during that event.

Air samples taken at the time showed sulfur gases ranging from 149 parts per billion near the Salton Sea to 20 ppb further out.

The state air quality standard for hydrogen sulfide is 30 ppb, with the odor threshold being about 8 ppb, according to the AQMD documents.

Future large-scale odor events are expected as the Salton Sea continues to recede, the AQMD reports.