EIR takes in Oak Canyon air quality



Construction of a massive subdivision could kick up lots of dust in Copperopolis, but only for a while.

That's according to the revised draft environmental impact report for Oak Canyon Ranch, a proposed 3,251-acre, 2,275-home project that also includes two golf courses, a day spa, shops and restaurants.

An air quality study included in the revised EIR states that if the entire project were built in one year, it could produce 1,351 pounds of dust daily. That's 246.6 tons a year.

The EIR lists that impact as "significant within a limited area and for a limited time." The project is proposed south of Highway 4 on both sides of the Little John Road extension.

Dust becomes a significant impact when a project is found to potentially spew 15 tons or more per year into the air, the EIR said.

But because Oak Canyon Ranch will probably be built over several years, the EIR also says dust levels may never exceed 15 tons annually.

Even without the project, Calaveras Deputy Air Pollution Control Officer Lakhmir Grewal said, county dust levels sometimes exceed U.S. standards.

Federal guidelines say there should be no more than 50 micrograms of dust per cubic meter of air.

Some days there are just 10 micrograms per cubic meter; other days there are 150, Grewal said.

"The glass is already full," he concluded.

But the EIR recommends safeguards to keep the Oak Canyon dust settled, including :

? No grading or excavation when winds exceed 20 mph.

? Regular watering of construction areas.

? A 25-mph limit on construction roads.

Once Oak Canyon Ranch is built out, says the EIR, it will produce other emissions, most from cars and fireplaces. Smaller amounts would come from propane and wood stoves, perfume and blow dryers.

The EIR said the use of fireplaces and wood stoves could have a "potentially significant" impact on air quality.

The Union Democrat
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