July 2017 Metrics Report

Days of Unhealthy Air Based on EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) for select cities (2015 & 2016)

The map shows the number of days air quality reached an “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” Air Quality Index or Orange AQI levels in selected U.S. cities including the Lincoln and Omaha MSAs. As can be seen in the map, Nebraska enjoys cleaner air than many other areas in the USA. Our citizens have good, healthy air to breathe and businesses operate without being subject to restrictive regulations that are common in areas of the country with compromised air quality. Nebraska is in attainment with all federally established National Ambient Air Quality Standards and continued efforts to reduce emissions by the regulated public contribute to this status.

Emerging Issues/Risks: Over the last several months, NDEQ has received complaints in Scottsbluff regarding odors coming from operations of Western Sugar’s sugar beet processing facility. NDEQ does not have authority to directly address odor issues. However, NDEQ can investigate and if odors are associated with processes NDEQ does regulate, action to mitigate the odor may result. In this case, wastewater facilities are suspected of causing the odors. NDEQ is working with Western Sugar to address the wastewater facilities to minimize the odors.

Accomplishments: On July 21st, NDEQ submitted a final report to the Public Service Commission on the analysis of the final 79 miles of the proposed TransCanada Keystone Pipeline. After reviewing the geology, soils, sediment, groundwater, surface water, and air impacts, NDEQ concludes that both the preferred and alternative pipeline routes will have minimal permanent environmental impacts in Nebraska.

NDEQ and DHHS have entered into an MOA that will co-locate the DHHS Drinking Water Program and NDEQ. Currently, both agencies work extensively with communities on issues dealing with drinking water and wastewater. The MOA will result in streamlined services and more effective delivery of assistance to the communities by NDEQ and DHHS.

Misc. Items of Note:
A site near Valley has been added to the National Priority List (NPL) Superfund sites. The site, referred to as Old Highway 275 and N. 288th St. site, is being listed due to the presence of various volatile organic compounds and other contaminants in the groundwater. Several private domestic wells and a public drinking water well have been impacted. Under Superfund, if there is no potentially responsible party found liable for the contamination, Nebraska will pay for 10% of the costs for the first 10 years of remediation, and the federal government pays 90%. After 10 years, Nebraska is responsible for all costs. This is the 17th active NPL site in Nebraska.