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Influx of debris cuts landfill life

June 26, 2013

The Big Spring City Council received an update on issues surrounding the municipal landfill during Tuesday night's meeting and the prognosis is anything but sunny.

According to Interim City Manager Todd Darden, the landfill has reached a critical point where the influx of materials — much of which is coming from construction and commercial entities — is cutting the life of the facility in half.

“We're in a crucial time with space (available) at our current site,” Darden said grimly. “As we look at future development needs … our time and space available there are becoming more and more of a concern. We have to look at ways we can take our waste stream, analyze it and divert that stream to other places which can handle it. One of the most talked about topics during tonight's meeting has been construction and the offshoot of that is the construction and demolition debris, which comes from remodeling or building something new.

“What we've been able to do and what the ordinance allows us to do is administratively divert waste streams where we feel it's a special situation. On the other hand, however, we don't want to hurt our customers who are currently utilizing our landfill, such as a homeowner who might be remodeling his garage to turn it into a bedroom. While we don't want to hurt them, we are aware there are pass-through costs that go along the construction industry, whether it is commercial or residential, and we want to try to minimize them as much as possible, which is the reason the ordinance gives us the latitude to do that.”

Darden said the amount of waste being brought into the landfill has doubled, while the city's resources for providing sanitation services for city customers has decreased immensely.

“As we know, there is an ever-increasing demand for our services in the way of sanitation,” Darden said. “The average weekly waste stream we receive at our landfill, the total consumable products that were brought to us was about 500 tons. We're (currently) pushing 1,000 tons a week in our sanitation department.

“We're visiting with consultants to look at our waste stream management, recycling programs, how we can better strategically place containers and provide the service our customers demand. As you know, in a lot of areas within our community we were offering two-day-a-week pick up. With the expanded service demand that's been placed on our sanitation department today, we're not able to meet those levels of service we've provided in the past. Once you start taking away services that are necessary for the waste stream and what people are disposing of, that just creates a whole other compounded problem for us.”

Darden said the diverted waste should not affect household consumers.

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