Two winters from now, officials probably will have to rely on complaints from citizens to help control people who use their woodburning stoves too much.
Woodburning stoves are the fourth leading cause of small-particle air pollution in Utah County. As part of a comprehensive state implementation plan, the Utah County Commission Wednesday adopted a resolution supporting the plan and the state's efforts to clean up the air.About 20 days each year, temperature inversions occur, trapping pollutants in Utah Valley. During those days, strict restrictions on use of woodburning stoves would go into effect.
The issue of enforcement in Utah County remains unresolved, but Dr. Joseph Miner, the director of the county Health Department, said he anticipates the regulations would rely mainly on complaints. He said county health officials also would watch for violations in the course of their regular duties.
Miner said he also hopes law-enforcement personnel will let the Health Department know of violations they spot during their regular patrol activities. At a study session Monday, Sheriff Dave Bateman expressed concern about his deputies having to help enforce the regulations.
But such issues have not been officially determined. In fact, if enough people voluntarily comply with the regulations, no enforcement will be needed, the Health Department says. Miner said that if the state's regulations are not strict enough, the federal government could require residents of Utah County to stop using their woodburning stoves completely.
Wednesday's resolution was mainly a bureaucratic move to help the state meet federal requirements. Miner said that sometimes local governments have fought state governments when they try to implement clean-air standards in a community.
That all involves complicated formulas the federal Environmental Protection Agency uses to determine just how much pollution would be removed from the air. With Utah County's official support, the formulas change, making it easier to meet the federal standards.
The county had been writing regulations to go with the state plan, Miner said, but the state's rules kept changing. Therefore, the county decided to finish their rules after the state was done. Without the resolution, such actions might appear to EPA as an uncooperative attitude, Miner explained.
Fewer than 1,000 county residents use woodburning stoves as their only source of heat. They will probably not be penalized by the regulations. Commissioner Sid Sandberg suggested that fines collected from violators be used to help those residents buy EPA-approved stoves.
The state plan is set to go into effect next fall. During the first year, compliance will be voluntary. If needed, enforcement is set to begin the following year.