PPACG has coordinated plans to protect the quality of our air and water since the early 1970s. We work with numerous stakeholders throughout the region, including local governments, nonprofit organizations, military installations, and special districts.
PPACG is the lead air-quality planning agency for the Pikes Peak region, including most of El Paso County and a portion of Teller County, primarily within Woodland Park. We’re charged with ensuring the region remains in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards, developing plans to improve air quality, and reviewing any legal or regulatory changes to evaluate potential impacts to the region.
The region has five air-quality monitoring stations: two for ozone, and one each for particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. The region is in attainment for all six pollutants; the last violation was in 1989 for carbon monoxide. There are no monitoring stations for lead or nitrogen dioxide.
We ensure compliance with the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six principal pollutants:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Particle Matter
- Sulfur Dioxide
The PPACG Board and staff are assisted by the Air Quality Technical Committee, which advises us on air-quality issues, goals, plans, and programs, and aids in the development and review of regional air-quality plans. Meetings are on an as-needed basis and are open to the public.
In the 1980s, the region exceeded the carbon monoxide standard, and federal regulations required that a plan be developed to bring the region into compliance. PPACG developed this plan in 1999 and updated it in 2009 to show continued attainment through 2020.
Ozone is the air-quality pollutant of most concern in the Pikes Peak region. It causes a number of harmful effects on the respiratory system, particularly for children and people with asthma and pulmonary diseases. Made up of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, ozone is very dependent on weather and meteorological conditions, with the highest concentrations usually measured during the summer months. A component of smog, ozone is not emitted directly as a pollutant, but forms when sunlight causes a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Nitrogen oxide is emitted from vehicles, power plants, and other sources of combustion. Volatile organic compounds come from vehicle emissions, gasoline vapor, dry cleaners, refineries, factories, and other sources.
The Environmental Protection Agency sets a standard for maximum ozone in the air; currently, it is 70 parts per billion, down from the previous acceptable level of 75 ppb, set in 2008. Air quality in the region is monitored year-round at two monitoring stations, both located along the foothills where ozone concentrations are usually the highest. Ozone concentrations in 2014 and 2015 are the lowest recorded values in the past decade, and the Pikes Peak region is expected to remain in compliance with the standard.
PPACG works with local communities and stakeholders to address water-quality concerns throughout the region, and is responsible for reviewing applications for new and modified wastewater-treatment facilities. Staff also works with various local and statewide groups to update water-quality policies and standards.
The Water Quality Management Committee advises the PPACG Board and staff on current and emerging issues, goals, plans, and programs affecting water quality in the Pikes Peak region, aids in the review of site applications, and helps develop the region’s water-quality management plan.
PPACG convened the Arkansas and Fountain Coalition for Urban River Evaluation, or AF CURE, in 2012 to help the 11 wastewater-discharging entities in El Paso and Pueblo counties develop a collaborative water-quality monitoring plan. The group collects, analyzes, and shares data from water samples throughout the region, and developed a white paper outlining water-quality concerns in the region. Learn more at www.afcure.org.