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Friday, Sep 29, 2023



DOUGLAS YOUNG Staff Reporter

A new dust-reduction rule slated for a vote at the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s February meeting will cost an estimated $16.7 million each year between now and 2010.

City governments will bear the brunt of the costs, while the construction industry will also pay more to reduce airborne dust levels in the district.

The construction industry and local city governments have worked closely with the AQMD in crafting the new rule, though both groups expressed some reservations over the measure.

The rule would require business and city governments to reduce levels of minute dust particles, known as PM10, emitted into the air.

Under the measure, construction companies will have to keep their vehicles from tracking soil onto paved roads and sprinkle water on construction sites more often to reduce the amount of airborne dust particles.

Meanwhile, city governments would be required to replace some of their broom street-sweepers with higher-tech, dust-reducing sweepers.

The construction industry is prepared to absorb its share of the costs of dust reduction under the new rule, said Jeb Stuart, a spokesman for the Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition, a trade group representing the local construction industry.

“We’re not concerned about the added costs. We’re more concerned that maybe (some of the provisions) are counterproductive,” he said.

Specifically, the construction industry questions the effectiveness of increased waterings at idle construction sites during high winds, which would be required under the new rule. Builders would have to increase their waterings from the current three times daily to four times when there is no activity and winds exceed 25 miles per hour.

“But when you have winds strong enough where water is blowing almost sideways, is it really productive?” Stuart asked.

On the government side, the main concern is that dust-mitigation efforts could end up costing cities much more than the AQMD now estimates, according to Barb Garrett, a legislative analyst in the Chief Legislative Analyst’s office for the City of L.A.

Garrett said the new rule calls for replacing some of the city’s broom street-sweepers with higher-tech vacuum sweepers. However, high-tech vacuum sweepers travel at about one-third the speed of current broom sweepers, meaning the city would have to replace each broom sweeper with three vacuum sweepers to do the same amount of work in the same amount of time, she said.

“The cost would be significantly higher” for cities to implement the rule than the AQMD’s current estimates, Garrett said.

The rule is slated for a hearing at the AQMD’s Feb. 14 meeting, and then the board will vote on the measure. Despite the reservations, passage of the new rule in some form is likely to occur, according to AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood.

“There’s been a lot of dialogue. (Cities and construction companies) were initially concerned about the cost and effort required. But there were modifications to the rule, so most of their concerns have been addressed,” he said.

Douglas Young

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