By CHRIS AGEE
City Manager Lance Howerton presented information to Mineral Wells council members Tuesday concerning the proposed placement of an air monitoring station within the city.
He explained a representative from the North Texas Commission contacted city staff last month with the request. According to information presented at the meeting, the NTC received a $14 million Texas Commission on Environmental Quality grant to establish a series of such stations throughout the region to measure air quality across North Texas.
Howerton noted 35 sites are already in operation with several other stations in negotiation. He said the station would not measure regulated air components that might lead to “near nonattainment” status by TCEQ.
“My primary concern was, what is the basis for this?” he said, assuring council the proposal appears to be a “benign activity that won’t negatively impact us.”
In fact, he said, he is confident results will show Palo Pinto County has exceptional air quality.
The proposed location, adjacent to the Ram ground storage tank, drew some concern from council. Mayor Mike Allen asked if the site’s proximity to an industrial plant might skew results.
Winds from the southeast will carry air issues away from the site, he said, adding the purpose of the station is to monitor actual air pollution created within a community.
Offering his own solution, councilman Rick Bennett said the NTC “could put it in my backyard.”
Howerton noted the station will not be testing ozone, noting the agreement calls for the commission to pay $2,500 per year to the City for lease of the property.
City Attorney George Gault noted the agreement does not state specifically what issues the station may test, though he stopped short of recommending such language be added.
“We could do that,” Howerton said, “but 35 others have [been placed] without a concern.”
Council member Tammy Underwood wanted to make sure the community understood the station was not being installed because of any problem with our air quality but simply as a way to gauge it.