Council starts solid waste analysis process

mltc12_18_13In ten years, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power wants the Benton Crossing landfill to shut down. DWP owns the land there. That means Mammoth Lakes and Mono County would have no dump. When the Mammoth Town Council last met, they did vote to move ahead with analyses of new sites and programs for State-requried recycling and on a long-term solid waste disposal 20-year plan. The Council has said they will not move forward with a new franchise agreement for Mammoth Disposal until additional information is developed.

Peter Bernasconi of Public Works explained to the Council about the history of solid waste state requirements and new recycling demands by the government. He said on peak days Mammoth generates 30 to 40 tons of waste. CalRecycle, a State agency, wants to see more recycling.

Lisa Isaacs, County Solid Waste Task Force.

Lisa Isaacs, County Solid Waste Task Force.

Tony Dublino of Mono County explained that Mono took over dump operations 13 years ago. He pointed out that Benton Crossing is a regional landfill and receives all Mono County waste except Bridgeport and Walker. He said Mammoth’s trash takes up 80% of all waste. Dublino said the County could work with the Town on recycling requirements. He also recommended a 15-year plan.

Push back from the public has come in the form of critical comments that the Town has not fully investigated alternatives to spending millions on a new recycling center. One of the critics is Lisa Isaas, long-time member of the Town-County Solid Waste Task Force. She told the Council that her studies reveal for Mammoth “There is a lot you can do other than building a multi-million recycling facility for your contractor.” She also recommended looking at a regional recycling center.

Councilman Matthew Lehman said he would like to see cost analyses and the potential of more than one trash company serving the Town. Lehman also pointed out that contractors are already taking their refuse to Bishop where it’s cheaper.

The Council took the first step in what they said will be a lengthy process of public discussion, analysis and code writing. Their vote was unanimous.


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7 Responses to Council starts solid waste analysis process

  1. Trouble December 27, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    Maybe we can leave all the crap on DWP’s door steps. They earned it.

  2. Karen December 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I live most of the time in Santa Clara, CA, in the South San Francisco Bay Area. Husband and I own property in Walker in Mono County, and we will eventually retire to a rural site north of Bridgeport. I have used the Walker transfer station, and many items that we dump in the recycle bin in Santa Clara (like food cans) aren’t recycled by the transfer station. In fact, we often only generate one bag of garbage in Santa Clara in a week, because our recycling program is so extensive. Perhaps the Powers That Be in Mono County could inquire of other places how they manage to recycle so much. Maybe it isn’t cost-efficient for a sparsely-populated county… but you never know until you ask.

    • Trouble December 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      I say feed it to the bears!

    • Desert Tortoise December 27, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

      State law currently requires localities to divert 50% of their municipal solid waste away from landfills and into recycling programs. By 2020 75% of municipal solid waste has to be diverted into recycling. This is being done to preserve landfill space and prolong their lives. Landfills are difficult and expensive to develop. Nobody wants one in their region so developing new ones becomes very contentious. It is easier, and ultimately cheaper, to increase the amount of trash diverted into recycling programs rather than continue to bury trash in landfills.

      The difficulty is educating people that this is the case and that it is in their interest to participate in recycling programs. Curbside recycling programs are usually the most effective and least costly. Santa Clara County where I also have property has a three can scheme, one can for metals, plastics and paper, one for non-recyclable trash and one for green waste. LA does the same. San Francisco adds food scraps to the green waste and has found a recycling firm in the San Joaquin Valley that can recycle food scraps. San Francisco already meets the 75% diversion requirement and LA is at around 60% diverted. Most of the state, however, fails to meet even the 50% requirement and soldiers along with waivers from the state. You can look on the Cal Recycle website and find out how well your community or county is doing.

  3. Ken Warner December 28, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    In the ’60’s and ’70’s, Encinatas, CA had a huge landfill. You could smell it from miles away and it was in what later became the middle of town. It looked like an ancient midden. It towered over the adjacent access roads.

    They eventually closed it and later they built a housing tract on it. The houses all started to settle and their foundation cracked and methane and other gases seeped into the houses and caused health issues.

    Recycling is a good thing. Recycling combined with trash to energy production would be a real useful thing. Won’t ever happen here because the old timers are too old. In one form or another, it will make jobs if nothing else. Crappy jobs but jobs none the less.

    The three can idea is a great idea. Getting the old time leadership to catch up with the 21’st century will be the tough part. They won’t pick the right spot or the right collection strategy. They’ll just pick a spot and method that maximizes profit for somebody. It will be another good idea done poorly like the ice rink and the airport and Whitmore pool and track and the list goes on and on….

    • Desert Tortoise December 28, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Energy production from the methane given off by landfills is pretty much mandatory. By law the methane must be trapped so it does not contribute to air pollution. Because of that, landfills everywhere have methane recovery systems. The natural thing to do with it is to burn it as a fuel to make electricity. You can see exactly such a plant alongside I-405 in Sepulveda Pass near the southern end of the pass. Many of the side canyons alongside I-405 are closed landfills filled with trash.

      • Ken Warner December 30, 2013 at 10:37 am #

        I’ve been to the current landfill on Benton Crossing and while I see the vents for releasing trapped gas, I don’t see an energy production facility. Does one exist out there and I’ve not seen it?


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