Leonardo DiCaprio joins forces with Comité Cívico Del Valle to expand Salton Sea air quality monitoring

To my knowledge, no organization in the U.S. has achieved as much using citizen science as the Brawley, California community and environmental justice group Comité Cívico Del Valle.

Comité Cívico, working with a network of academic, governmental, and other partners, has built a community-based air quality monitoring system consisting of 40 monitors spread across the sprawling and dangerously polluted Imperial Valley; the IVAN environmental reporting system, which allows citizens to document and report environmental problems; a task force that follows up on the problems that citizens report, and much more.

The result? Empowered, knowledgeable, and engaged residents who are committed to make their community a better and healthier place, and have the tools to do it.

Last week, Comité Cívico gained a new ally  – Leonardo DiCaprio, who announced that his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will donate $100,000 to install and operate 20 new air monitors to monitor deadly chemical-laden particulate matter blowing from the rapidly drying Salton sea – perhaps the biggest environmental health challenge the region faces.

Also last week, perhaps inspired by Comité Cívico’s successes, the California State Legislature passed a bill, AB 617, which authorizes the deployment of community air monitoring systems in polluted communities across the state.

Knowledge is power, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s support will help empower the residents of the Imperial Valley to fight for one of the most fundamental human rights – clean air to breathe.  

To learn more about community-based air monitoring, join members of Comite Civico and dozens of other MFN organizations at the FREE 4th International Conference, and check out the references at the end of this post.

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation gives $100,000 toward monitoring pollution at Salton Sea (Desert Sun)

How community air monitoring projects provide a data-driven model for the future (Environmental Defense Fund)

In California’s Imperial Valley, Residents Aren’t Waiting for Government to Track Pollution, Yes Magazine

Imperial Valley gets an F grade in air quality by American Lung Association, KYMA

Advancing Environmental Justice: A New State Regulatory Framework to Abate Community-Level Air Pollution Hotspots and Improve Health Outcomes (Goldman School of Public Policy)


Come to the IVAN Air Monitoring Launch Friday, Sept 30 in Heber CA

Comite Civico Del Valle and their partners are doing AMAZING citizen science work in the Imperial Valley. Come celebrate with them tomorrow, Friday, September 30 in Heber, California and learn about their 40 station air monitoring network.

Heber is less than two hours east of San Diego, California and under an hour from Yuma, Arizona. Check out the links below for more information.

Tracking asthma threats in the Imperial Valley’s hazy air, Desert Sun

“It is Up to Us”: Citizen Science in Imperial County, Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert CommitteeDesert Report


California EPA launches new online reporting system – does your state need one too?

Just received from the State of Califonia –

Perhaps inspired by the amazing IVAN Network, which has been rolling out in California a region at a time, the State of California just announced a new statewide website for reporting environmental problems- the California Environmental Complaint System.

While initially not as powerful as IVAN, and lacking the strength of IVAN’s cross-agency task forces, as far as I know, it is the best statewide environmental reporting system in existence. 

Luis Olmedo, director of Comite Civico Del Valle and founder of the IVAN Network has a great quote about the system below.  Check it out.

Would you like to have a system like this in your state?  I sure would!


For Immediate Release

April 21, 2016
Contact: Alex Barnum, (916) 324-9670


New Online System Launched to Help Californians Report Environmental Problems

SACRAMENTO – The California Environmental Protection Agency launched an online tool today that makes it easier for the public to report environmental problems anywhere in the state from their smartphones, tablets and computers.

“Community involvement is critical to our mission to protect public health and the environment,” said Secretary for Environmental Protection Matthew Rodriquez. “This new reporting system empowers the public to take action when they suspect a problem, and provides them with greater responsiveness, transparency and accountability.”

The new website takes the user through the process of reporting an environmental problem, whether it’s related to air or water pollution, hazardous or solid waste, or pesticides. The system can identify the user’s location using GPS and allows them to upload photo, video and other documentation of the suspected hazard. The website is available in English and Spanish.

When a report is submitted, it is routed to the appropriate state or local agencies. CalEPA, along with its boards and departments, works with more than 400 state and local agencies to enforce environmental laws and regulations. If users provide an email address, they will receive an update when their complaint is referred and again when the complaint is closed. Users can also file anonymous reports.

The new website serves as an early warning system, alerting enforcement agencies of potential environmental violations, and providing witness accounts and documentation for investigations. This helps CalEPA and our partners at the local level address and resolve issues earlier, before they become bigger problems.

CalEPA will continue to update the  new system and is working closely with IVAN Online, a network of local environmental reporting systems that serves more than half a dozen low-income communities across the state, to coordinate the functions of the two systems.

Luis Olmedo, director of Comite Civico Del Valle and founder of the IVAN Network, said: “I applaud CalEPA for following through on its commitment to modernize its reporting system. The crowdsourcing technology is easy to use, and it will be compatible with existing reporting networks like IVAN, which makes it a powerful tool for environmental justice communities to use.”

The new CalEPA system supports state and local environmental enforcement efforts by providing a statewide tool that can ensure environmental reports reach the proper authority, regardless of the location or the type of pollution. It also assists communities and agencies that may not have the resources to build their own online systems.


View the new CalEPA environmental reporting system.