Residential garbage fees could rise should stricter requirements imposed by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) go into effect.
DEQ wants Simmons Sanitation/NADL Enterprises to transport all yard waste it collects to a landfill in Missoula, Mont. instead of its local landfill currently in operation several miles outside of Kamiah along Seven Mile Creek.
“What they are saying now is any yard waste that comes from a household now has to go to Missoula, Mont.,” said Robert Simmons of Simmons Sanitation before the Kamiah City Council July 12.
The move is being fought “dramatically” by Lewis, Idaho, Nez Perce, Clearwater and Latah counties, he reported.
Simmons believes DEQ is using a non-enforceable guidance document to coerce entities like his to comply. He said they are choosing to enforce their rules through the guidance document.
“Grass, brush, trees would have to be hauled to Montana,” said Simmons. “Anything that grows in the yard.”
Curiously, the DEQ requirement does not apply to commercial yard waste.
A preliminary estimate of implementing the new requirement would be a minimum of $50,000 additional cost for each of Idaho and Lewis counties, noted Simmons. “There’s no sense, rhyme or reason to it,” he added.
He said he wasn’t sure at this point how much residential monthly garbage fees could increase.
In a phone interview, Simmons said the purpose behind the requirement is a DEQ concern about the environmental impact of yard waste in local landfills. He said the fear is that the material will create a condition known as leachate resulting from material that is not properly aerated.
The Seven Mile Creek landfill is fully permitted by the state but now it is said to be out of compliance, noted Simmons. “They are pushing it very hard.”
Simmons said yard waste is correctly spread out and mixed at the inert landfill to prevent leachate.
In an attempt to get a handle on how much yard waste landfills like Simmons are taking, the state is asking them to perform a one-year study to observe all loads of yard waste that come into the landfill, documenting how much comes from residential sources versus commercial.
This alone would require hiring someone to do nothing but monitor every load, said Simmons.
Transporting the yard waste to Missoula would put more trucks on Highway 12 along scenic rivers. Making those trips economically efficient requires reaching a certain weight, noted Simmons. Yard waste does not compact very well unless it is mulched.
“They want us to compost, which is great. That is a whole other permit set up and you have to have a grinder and everything else,” said Simmons.
A dependable commercial grinder would be a minimum of about $250,000, according to Simmons. Anything less breaks too often and becomes a maintenance nightmare.
He said there are other items in DEQ’s recent compliance requirements that concern him greatly, though he would not elaborate at this time.
“I personally think that in the end they are going to come back and say ‘oh yeah, commercial yard waste cannot go in there also.’”
He said every year he is hit with an increase on hauling and disposal costs, but the new regulations could greatly increase it.
“This could be detrimental to a lot of smaller communities,” said Simmons about the requirements. “They really aren’t caring about it.”
“To haul brush all the way to Montana doesn’t make sense,” said Kamiah Mayor Dale Schneider.
Simmons believes DEQ Director John Tippets wants to find a workable solution, but the directors beneath him do not.
“If it goes through, the county will only have one solution and that is to increase everyone’s rate,” said Simmons.
In other council business:
Approved pay requests for engineering in the amount of $96,396 for Knox Concrete and $10,125 for Riedesel.
David Witthaus of TD&H Engineering presented an invoice for the month of May for the water infrastructure project totaling $1,568.50.
Council passed a motion to accept change order #32 for installation of a fire hydrant on Bryan Drive for $966.
Passed a motion to accept tire disposal for $466. Tires had been used as fill in a section of ground that was excavated for the new water line. The contractor didn’t think he should have to pay for hauling off tires, said Witthaus.
Passed a change order for $22,985 that accounts for the adjustment of items involved in the water line project. The cost was less than the expected cost of $27,324.
Schneider asked Witthaus why Hill Street wasn’t paved properly because it had a lot of rolls in it. He asked if it met specs.
“It did. I wasn’t aware that there was a concern about the quality of paving on Hill,” replied Witthaus.
The problem seems to involve roadway from Lawyer Creek to the high school and involves old paving, not the recently repaved sections. Witthaus said he would look into the matter.
He reported that all the new pavement was checked thoroughly with a 10-foot straight edge in both directions. “The contractor did a really good job,” he said.
He noted that a fire hydrant will be relocated at no cost to the city as it was placed in the wrong location.
Witthaus said the one-year warranty of the project should start at the completion of the project, not when work began.
Motion passed to eliminate the purchase of code books and use online sources. The city spends about $881 for Idaho code books each year.
Passed a motion to split the cost of water leaks for the Assembly of God Church and Haven of Rest.
Approved a parade permit for Barbecue Days.