Oceano Dunes dust to be monitored

The county Planning Department has issued an emergency permit for the Air Pollution Control District to install a 30-foot-tall meteorological tower in Nipomo to monitor dust coming off Oceano Dunes.

The new tower will replace an existing 20-foot tower at the Cal Fire station on Highway 1 on the Nipomo Mesa. It will contain air quality sampling equipment to monitor particulates blowing off the Dunes onto the Mesa.

The emergency permit is necessary because the improved tower will play a key role in monitoring the effectiveness of dust mitigation programs within the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, said planner Nancy Orton in a report to the county Planning Commission. A recent scientific study linked vehicle riding in the Dunes to unhealthy levels of particulates on the Mesa.

“Without that data, APCD cannot move forward with the analysis needed to develop the mitigation strategies and the longer it takes to begin collecting the data, the greater the exposure and risk to public health,” Orton wrote in the report.

The county also announced Tuesday that Supervisor Bruce Gibson and planning manager Matt Janssen will represent the county on a technical advisory committee that will develop the dust control strategies. Mike Winn, a Nipomo Community Services District director, administrator Vince Morici and county Health Officer Penny Borenstein will serve on a management oversight committee.

Under an agreement with the county and air district, State Parks Department will implement a pilot program in the Dunes by March, when the spring winds will begin.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.