Working to find a solution to Yakima's dirty air

YAKIMA, Wash. -- "I don't expect any surprises," said Steven George, a consultant for the Washington State Dairy Federation.

The Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency doesn't expect surprises either from the Yakima Air Winter Nitrate Study. The agency says it knows the region has problems with air pollution.

"It just confirmed what we already suspected," said YRCAA Division Supervisor Mark Edler.

The study overseen by the Department of Ecology says ammonia from agricultural activity, mixed with car emissions, caused the nitrate levels to be higher here than other parts of Washington.

Clean air authorities say the report is not specific enough.

"Which agricultural activity, can we pinpoint it, can we not? Which way do we go? So, that's the frustrating part at this point," said Edler.

Ecology says it will recommend more study, but will not present solutions.

The Clean Air Agency says it started a new program in January to help reduce air pollution from dairy farms.

Steven George, a farmer himself, thinks work with the Clean Air Agency is already helping.

"To implement practices that will reduce ammonia among other things, and so we're actually ahead of the game here as far as the dairy industry is concerned," said George.

The Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency is willing to work with other farming entities, but doesn't know what else can be done right now. Neither does the Department of Ecology.

"The study doesn't define a clear path of which way to go from this," said Edler.

Representatives from the Clean Air Agency say they're frustrated that the study and the Department of Ecology's presentation Thursday do not focus on solutions. That presentation starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency office and is open to the public.