Comité Cívico del Valle (CCV), a community-based organization, was founded in 1987, in Brawley, California by Jose Luis Velez Sr. who alongside concerned resident’s objective was to assist the farm working labor force in providing various social services and health needs in the region. Once established, CCV began its mission to include health and social services such as; environmental health education, nutrition, and asthma awareness, and furthermore providing Imperial Valley residents the opportunity to gain citizenship through a naturalization program. Comité Cívico del Valle’s motto “Informed People Build Healthy Communities” has continued to successfully evolve through the years and now incorporates; advocacy, civic engagement, resident education and participation in “citizen science” research studies through its asthma prevention and pesticide awareness programs.
Currently, Comité Cívico del Valle is leading multiple community projects to improve the quality of life of Imperial Valley residents through its successful environmental air monitoring program. IVAN Air Monitoring, launched on September 30, 2016, is a community air monitoring website that provides real-time air quality information, giving residents the necessary tools to take a more informed approach to their everyday outdoor activities. The IVAN website displays current particulate pollution levels at each monitor within the community network. The website also provides recommendation for reducing exposures for each air quality level, summary statistics for air quality at each monitor. IVAN Air Monitoring can be found at www.ivan-imperial.org, and can be easily accessed through a computer or cell phone. IVAN Air Monitoring is a collaboration between Comité Cívico del Valle, the University of Washington and other key partners such as, the California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP) who received a grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to conduct a four year community-based air monitoring research project in the County of Imperial. Presently, IVAN Monitoring consists of 40 air quality monitors throughout the County of Imperial between Mexicali Baja California and the Eastern Coachella Valley including the Salton Sea.
The Salton Sea has been shrinking for years and now is a major source of air pollution that affects disadvantaged communities resulting in an increase in asthma rates. Comité Cívico del Valle is working diligently with the State of California to educate and engage residents of Imperial and Riverside Counties about the current Salton Sea situation, its impacts to public health and wildlife in the region and the State’s efforts to address the issue. As part of our dedication to environmental justice, Comité Cívico del Valle organizes an annual Environmental Health Leadership Summit (EHLS) in the County of Imperial, which has been a success since its initial inception in June 2007. First of its kind, EHLS is considered to be the first conference dedicated solely to discussing topics concerning the environment and the health issues affected our local communities. This summit convenes residents, educators, youth, local stakeholders, health care providers, government officials, and environmental justice advocates to discuss important environmental health concerns.