West Silver Valley Air Quality Improvement Projects
In January 2015, a portion of the West Silver Valley (WSV), which includes Pinehurst, Smelterville, Kellogg, Wardner, and Kingston, was designated by EPA as a nonattainment area for fine particulate pollution (PM2.5). This means the area had persistent high PM2.5 levels that were above the federal health-based standards for outdoor air pollution.
The EPA awarded a grant to DEQ to develop a program to help lower PM2.5 levels in the valley. DEQ is partnering with WSV communities to develop a number of projects with the goal of improving the area’s air quality. The projects will not only be designed to help the WSV communities and residents return to a more healthful environment, but several of the projects will help communities and residents save money.
Over the next 3 years, DEQ will roll out projects which are intended to help residents conduct more efficient and cleaner wood stove use, reduce the amount of outdoor open burning throughout the area, and explore outreach and educational opportunities. The first project to be rolled out is the WSV Woodstove Change-Out Program.
Reducing Residential Wood Combustion Emissions
Residential wood combustion is a significant source of direct PM2.5 emissions in the WSV. Winter weather in the WSV brings air stagnation conditions and strong inversions during which smoke from widespread woodstove use produces unhealthy air quality. The valley is subject to frequent inversions where particulates in the lower atmosphere are unable to rise or move out of the area, leading to a build-up of particulates and poor air quality.
|Woodstove Change-Out Program|
A majority of the woodstoves currently used in the WSV are older woodstoves and fireplace inserts that do not meet current EPA or industry standards. Over the next 3 years, DEQ intends to replace over 188 non-compliant wood stoves with a combination of new EPA-approved wood stoves, gas stoves, pellet stoves, or electric heat pumps.