Project 1004 - Sand and Dust Control in the Fremont Valley Area of Kern County

 

Funded by the Eastern Kern County Air Pollution Control Distract (EKAPCD), this program for sand and dust control is taking place over a 13-month period, in and around Cantil and Rancho Seco in the Fremont Valley area of California’s Mojave Desert. The area has a long history of poor air quality and frequent dust problems that can lead to serious health problems and property damage. Wind-blown dust has worsened since the most recent drought began, because instead of an annual average seven inches of precipitation, less than two inches of annual precipitation has fallen beginning in 2012, which minimizes weedy annual vegetation in the spring windy season. Compounding this problem is the recent solar farm developments in the deserts.  In addition, this project addresses the control and maintenance of unpaved roads that serve the area.  Deterioration of these roads has been caused in part by blow-sand intrusion. Recommendations for paving specific road segments and for maintaining those roads will be developed.

 

 

Project Scope of Work

 

Task 1 - Identify and characterize the primary blow-sand source areas and areas impacted downwind, and provide project monitoring and reporting of blow-sand transport by wind in the Fremont Valley area over a 13-month period - To achieve the objectives of Task 1, the AV Dust Control Group will execute the following subtask assignments during this project:

1a – Inspect the predominant blow-sand accumulation areas in the study area – The AV Dust Control Group will survey large accumulations of blow-sand already exist in study area, as identified by Julia Grim and others.  The locations and configurations of these areas will be examined to determine the probable blow-sand source areas and transport paths that can be used in part to define the transport routes that are most active and that will be addressed in the subject project.  Specifically this information will aid in the initial deployment of sand transport monitors under the subtask described below.

2a - Deploy and Monitor an Array of Cox Sand Catchers - In attempt to identify the predominant blow-sand source areas and impacted downwind land areas in the Fremont Valley, the AV Dust Control Group will deploy 12 Cox Sand Catchers (CSCs) upwind and downwind of identified blow-sand accumulation areas in and around Cantil, Rancho Seco and the Honda Test Track to track the movement of desert blow-sand under high-wind conditions. The CSC deployment pattern developed in subtask 1a will be adjusted as needed, once monitoring results identify major blow-sand flow pathways that are active during high-wind events. The blow-sand monitoring program will focus on the upwind blow-sand transport paths that produced the large accumulations identified by Julia Grim as well as the transport paths that would cause adverse impacts to land areas and structures further downwind. We will also take advantage of direct observations of blow-sand and dust plume generation and transport during high wind events on the part of people who live or work in the area.

 

Task 2 – Provide a report with site assessment and analysis of unpaved roads in the Cantil and Rancho Seco areas of the Fremont Valley to the EKAQMD, to include (a) recommendations for (1) roads to pave and (2) auxiliary sand and dust control methods to maintain paved roads

To achieve the objectives of Task 2, the AV Dust Control Group will execute the following assignments during this project:

2a – Identification of utilized structures - During this subtask, we will identify habitable structures, public buildings, emergency vehicle routes and other pertinent factors that will assist us in understanding traffic patterns and creating a prioritized list of road upgrade needs. All such structures shall be identified on a map. 

2b – Analysis of current road conditions - This subtask will focus on identification and mapping of current road conditions and estimated traffic levels.

2c – Create prioritized list of roads to pave - Using information collected in the above tasks, we will compile a list and map of roads that require paving to assure that functional structures are accessible to residents and emergency services.

2d – Develop sand and dust control recommendations for maintaining paved roads - On-going maintenance is necessary to ensure the long-term accessibility of the paved roads. In this task, we will develop and submit maintenance recommendations to EKAPCD.

 

Task 3 – Provide project oversight

The monitoring program will be implemented over a 13-month period that includes one springtime windy season. CSC data will be collected monthly during the windy season (February – June) and quarterly during the remaining period. In addition, CSC data will be collected within 48 hours of each significant visible dust event. Meteorological data for high wind events will be collected from local weather stations in the Fremont Valley.

 

Task 4 – Report findings to interested parties

This task will focus on reporting of project findings and actions to the EKAPCD and other interested parties. Monitoring data will be included in monthly progress reports during the windy season, in quarterly progress reports during the remaining period, and in a final project report at the end of the project. The project final report will document in detail the methods and results of the project. A draft version of the report will be circulated for comment 30 days prior to the conclusion of the project, and revisions will be made as warranted to assure clarity and completeness of the final report. This project work will be supplemented by quick responses to local inquiries about the status of the project to provide information that assists interested parties in providing inputs to the project staff. These responses will be made in person during site visits or by email/telephone.

 

 

Project Management and Staffing

 

For administrative purposes, this study will be performed under the direction of Ms. Julie Schuder, Operations Manager for the AV Dust Control Group. Julie is a local resident in the Lancaster CA area, and she is extensively involved in town council deliberations about sand and dust control. She will be responsible for oversight of all aspects of this study and any interactions with the local community during the entire duration of the project. Dr. Chatten Cowherd, who is an internationally recognized dust control expert with 15 years of experience in blow-sand studies performed in the Antelope Valley, will serve as the subject matter expert and will be responsible for performing the required expert reviews and technical analyses.