City of Wichita officials on Friday said they are prepared for the stricter ozone levels set by the federal government this week. The National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone was reduced from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. Set by the Environmental Protection Agency, ozone standards are designed to protect public health.
City of Wichita officials have been engaged with EPA officials and regional stakeholders through task forces and programs designed to raise awareness and improve public health, referencing the South Central Kansas Air Quality Improvement Task Force and the EPA Ozone Advance Program. The City signed up for the Ozone Advance Program in 2012 and adopted an Ozone Action Plan aimed at reducing city emissions in 2014.
“The City of Wichita has been out in front of this issue for some time,” said Laura Quick, the city’s environmental compliance manager. “We’ve been working to raise awareness of the possibility and impact of going out of attainment after the new standard comes out.”
The City has its own action plan to reduce ozone, which is an air pollutant. The plan can be reviewed at www.wichita.gov/ozone. Wichita monitors air quality across Sedgwick County on behalf of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the EPA. The Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has had a really good ozone season, Quick said, citing the cooler summer temperatures and 2015 data showing the area ozone level is projected to be below the new 70ppb requirement. The 2015 ozone season ends Oct. 31; the 2016 runs from March 1 to October 31.
Local officials across the country have expressed concern about the economic impact of having to comply with the revised standard. The EPA is expected to designate non-attainment areas in 2017.