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Solid waste expense may jump $110K under DEQ rules

New DEQ guidance will change way landfills operate regarding yard waste

— Think yard waste and brush is an expensive problem now? Dumping it is about to start costing Idaho and Lewis counties an additional $110,000 a year, minimum, under the agreement the counties have with Robert Simmons of Simmons Sanitation. That’s according to Simmons, who on Jan. 24 notified the county commission that a hefty cost increase is coming due to a change in how yard waste and brush must be handled.

Via e-mail, Simmons told the commissioners solid waste costs are going up because the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued new guidance for solid waste disposal that will change the way landfills – and transfer stations like the Simmons Sanitation facility in Kamiah – operate.

The Simmons facility is a hub where trash deposited into local dumpsters is collected, from which it is then hauled to Missoula, Mont. for disposal. Simmons told the board the yard waste and brush – which are “bulky and do not compress” – will have to be hauled elsewhere. Simmons also told the commission the cost of setting up a facility to compost it would be “about the same as the increase needed to just dispose of it.”

The potential for Idaho County’s solid waste expenses to jump by more than $110,000 per year because of regulation has the commissioners speaking of putting political pressure on DEQ, with county chairman Skip Brandt e-mailing commissioners Frei and Duman that he’s trying to arrange a meeting of the regional solid waste advisory council (RSWAC) to prepare to take the issue to the legislature.

In 2003, the legislature approved the rules that underpin the new guidance, on which DEQ has been working for years through health districts, stakeholders and regulated facilities. The new DEQ guidance explains the rules and was published in January.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, DEQ state office solid waste program manager Mollie Mangerich told the Free Press the 2003 solid waste management rules govern disposal of brush and yard waste and that the law hasn’t changed. Via e-mail, Mangerich said transfer stations may conduct “infrequent open burning” of agricultural waste, silviculture waste, land-clearing debris, diseased trees and yard debris and would need to comply with air pollution control rules to handle it that way.

According to Mangerich, the North Central Idaho Health District (NCHD) has “had a policy in place for several years that allowed the disposal of prohibited materials in their regions non-municipal solid waste landfills.”

“To my knowledge, they have since rescinded that policy upon finalization of the guidance and NCHD staff will be working with these landfills to revise their operations plans,” Mangerich added.

The Free Press first learned of the potential cost increase after the regular news deadline on Monday. On Tuesday morning, Jan. 31, the Free Press contacted the DEQ state office and attempted to contact Simmons. The Free Press has followed developments with the local solid waste system closely, including how the cost of operating the system has changed over time.


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