April 25, 2005

BC beefs up air, water monitoring, adds to funding for airshed plans

The British Columbia government is investing $500,000 to enhance its air, surface water and groundwater monitoring capability. Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Bill Barisoff said the funds will maintain, modernize and expand equipment at some of the 37 air quality, 35 surface water and 160 groundwater monitoring locations throughout the province. The investment complements BC's plans to spend $1.2 million to hire more water resource protection specialists (ELW April 11).

Barisoff made the announcement during a tour of a new joint provincial/federal air-quality monitoring station in Osoyoos. "This network of monitoring stations helps government determine the effectiveness of our standards, protecting the health of our residents and our environment," he stated.

For this year, the funding will support projects such as: the replacement of air monitoring equipment in Prince George and in Golden (providing up to $45,000 and $38,000, respectively); the addition of more air monitoring equipment in Cranbrook (providing up to $28,000); the addition of more water monitoring equipment in Kitchener (providing up to $12,000); and the replacement of water monitoring equipment in the Fraser Valley (providing up to $4,000).

During the last four years, the provincial government has invested in 146 air quality monitors and 184 water monitors across BC. It has also provided funding and technical expertise to assist the development of community and regional airshed plans. As a result, nine such airshed plans have been developed in the last four years-more than were completed in the previous decade.

Barisoff also announced $202,000 in grants to assist the development of airshed plans and other air quality improvement programs and studies. Most of this funding will support seven community-based public education, awareness and research projects designed to complement the work the ministry already is doing in those areas.

Among this year's funded projects are: $40,000 for continued collection of data for the Golden airshed assessment and plan; $40,000 for a study of dust problems in the Prince George airshed; $14,850 for wood smoke and backyard-burning education programs in Port Alberni; $20,000 to support development of Phase 3 of an airshed plan in the Sea-to-Sky region; and $25,000 to BC Transit to support Clean Air Day 2006.

"These airshed studies and plans are critical to improving air quality, and my ministry will help community partners develop them," said Barisoff, noting that "air quality varies from region to region, community to community so that's why it's important that government support initiatives that are based on local knowledge and conditions."

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