It’s settled. The Mesa City Council on Monday formally adopted dust-control measures to keep in step with the state mandate to improve air quality levels.
The idea is to bring the city’s large particulate matter, or PM-10, levels low enough to help the state meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s compliance standards.
The EPA last year gave the Phoenix planning area, including Phoenix, Mesa, Apache Junction and parts of Pinal County, a failing grade in controlling PM-10 levels.
Earlier Monday, Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley, R-District 2, addressed council members as part of his plans to meet leaders in other cities and towns to seek cooperation in cleaning up the air.
“There isn’t a single entity responsible for the brown cloud,” Stapley said, as the council looked at a photo of a portion of the state covered by haze due to wood burning.
Mayor Keno Hawker said he appreciates county efforts.
“We’ve gained some ground but as the population goes up, we have additional work to do,” Hawker said.
Arizona has submitted a plan to the EPA to reduce dust levels by at least 5 percent annually, beginning this year.
In order to reach attainment, the state would have to stay within mandated levels for three years to be in compliance.
The changes in Mesa include a prohibition on blowing landscape debris onto public roads.
That’s already in the Stormwater Pollution Control Ordinance, according to Scott Bouchie, Mesa’s environmental programs administrator, but needed to be included in the PM-10 ordinance.
“A lot of cities have relied on the county, so it’s new territory for them, but for us it’s not a huge change,” Bouchie said.
The city also will require unpaved parking lots exceeding 3,000 square feet at residential developments with less than four units to now be paved, with enforcement effective Oct. 1, 2009.
Also, an earlier exemption on unpaved parking lots less than 5,000 square feet is being removed for all residential developments with more than four units and nonresidential developments, enforced this October.
Operating a motor vehicle on an unpaved road or surface that’s closed by a landowner would be considered a form of trespassing.
Bouchie added that the city usually tries to get industries, including the construction industry, to comply voluntarily, and is largely successful.
Stapley noted that Arizona could lose federal highway funding to the tune of $7 billion if it doesn’t attain compliance.
He said residents needn’t fear overbearing enforcement as the county only inspects areas when they get a complaint.
“People mistakenly believe they’ll have inspectors peeping in their backyards every other day,” Stapley said.