Congratulations to the city and county for finding more ways to cooperate. The recent approval of a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on areas of common interest will provide another opportunity to improve efficiency and provide better services to our constituents.
In a similar move 15 years ago, the city and county agreed to form a joint powers authority for the purpose of closing the county-owned landfill, building a new transfer station and meeting the state mandate to cut our waste disposal in half.
This year marks the 15-year anniversary of the formation of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority. Under the direction of a committed Board of Commissioners, representing the interests of the city, the county and the community at large, we have achieved laudable success.
The county landfill has been closed and the new transfer station opened in February 2005. As of 2006, we as a community, the city and the county combined, have achieved our 50 percent waste reduction mandate.
All of this was accomplished because the city and the county decided to cooperate to address these issues. It has not always been easy. It has required resilience and a dedication to get the job done. This serves as a good example of what the city and county can accomplish when they resolve to work together, regardless of jurisdiction.
Next time you see a member of the City Council or the County Board of Supervisors, please thank them for making this commitment to work together on the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority. Our success demonstrates what our community can accomplish when we follow through on our commitments and work together for the common good of the community.
A few people think that because we have checked the major accomplishments off our list that our job is done and that the purpose of this city/county partnership is completed. This fails to recognize how much work is yet to be done.
We still have a legal obligation to monitor and maintain the closed landfill for at least 30 years. This involves regular testing of the surface water and groundwater in the vicinity of the landfill to ensure that the leachate (water that has come into contact with garbage) does not pose any threat to public health or the environment. We must also monitor landfill gas emissions to ensure that these explosive gases are not migrating off-site.
In the future, we may be required to implement additional remedial actions if either the water or the air in the vicinity of the landfill are shown to be creating negative impacts. Heightened concern regarding greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, methane and carbon dioxide may necessitate additional expenditures to collect and treat the landfill gas emissions.
The Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority strives to provide the most convenient and affordable services possible at our new state-of-the-art transfer station. We operate a public service that is open seven days a week for customer convenience.
We continue to seek ways to upgrade services and reduce costs by establishing new programs where reusable, recyclable or compostable materials can be processed locally, to avoid the high cost of exporting garbage. We must also comply with new laws, such as the recent ban on disposal of electronic devices, batteries and products containing mercury.
Some people say that government should be run like a business. This is exactly what we are doing. However, we use our "profits" to provide essential community services, such as the Free Household Hazardous Waste Round-Up that we have scheduled on Sept. 8.
All of the expenses for improved recycling and legally mandated landfill maintenance are paid from the fees collected at our community owned transfer station. We do not require any subsidies from the city or county. We do not rely on taxes of any kind to continue to provide the quality service that we provide.
It is important occasionally to stop and recognize the things that we have done right as a community. We should all salute our city and county leaders who had the vision and the follow-through to demonstrate what can achieved by working together. Cooperation leads to success.
Kevin Hendrick is the director of Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority.