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Decision to install ammonia sensors in the Lower Valley is tabled by YRCAA board members

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.- Concerned residents, dairy farmers and officials from the Yakima Regional Clean Air Authority (YRCAA) all met at the YRCAA’s board meeting Thursday afternoon to consider installing passive ammonia sensors throughout the lower valley.

Kathleen Rogers is just one of several residents in the lower valley that say she's in a situation that simply stinks.

"We have at night … and sometimes during the day ... a smell of ammonia that is so strong that we have to not be outside," said Rogers.

Rogers says she really noticed a change as local dairy farms in the area began to get bigger and bigger. And more cows, means more manure.

"We can't open our windows and doors at night when the ambient air brings in this smell of ammonia and manure. It's quite disruptive to any kind of family function that we want to have out here," said Rogers.

Rogers home sits directly across from a major dairy farm in the area, but Rogers says being neighbors isn't the problem.

"This is my home and I’m not going to move. He's not going to move. So I think we need to come together and try to come to happy grounds so we can all enjoy our homes," said Rogers.

Rogers hopes the beginning of that happy ground is found by board members of the YRCAA approving the installation of passive ammonia sensors in the lower valley.

Sensors the executive director at YRCAA says would in no way attack any individual agencies.

"We're not targeting any specific source. We're first trying to ascertain how much ammonia is in the ambient air, regardless of source, throughout the year,” said Keith Hurley, YRCAA Executive Director.

Hurley says the sensors would simply calculate how much ammonia there is in the ambient air and how long it lasts.

He says the agency expects to find lower magnitudes than what most would expect.

At Thursday's board meeting though, the decision was made to table the vote until all board members felt well versed on the information provided.

Board member, Bill Lover says in the end it's simply about air quality.

"Some people will say it won't matter, some people will say it will start a bigger investigation. You know it really doesn't matter to me. I kind of look at it as what's going to be best for the air? And that's the way we should look at it,” said Lover, a board member of the YWCAA.

We reached out local dairy farmers present at the meeting who declined to comment, only saying they trust the board's decision moving forward.

The YRCAA plans to make their vote on the ammonia sensors at their next meeting in two weeks.

Both dairy farmers and surrounding residents seemed pleased with the decision to table the vote while more details are reviewed.

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