How many waste bins will you have in the future?
Like their counterparts in cities and counties across the state, Merced County Supervisors are facing strict new rules and deadlines to boost organic waste recycling.
Specific to Merced County, leaders are being forced to decide if rural residents will have two or three waste containers in the future.
The State of California, by way of the legislation SB1383, is mandating that food waste be cut by 75 percent at the landfill sites — and that is a far cry from what is happening now. In order to meet that limit (and if the county doesn’t it will be fined), new handling of the waste will have to be in place.
According to the state, methane gas is the biggest environmental culprit and the food waste is the cause of it. SB1383 states that residents and businesses must subscribe to an organic waste collection service that either “source-separates” the waste (separate containers) or transports all unsegregated waste collected from a single or two-container system to a “high-diversion procession facility” — something Merced County would have to develop.
At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting, the Public Works staff presented the two options for the board to consider — a “two-container collection system” or a “three-container collection system” — and both had a variety of ramifications for the county’s garbage collection service providers with regard to capacity, storage space, processing methods, the number of trucks needed, and service rates.
Considering one option, Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza, from Livingston, said the cost, in terms of pollution, of having a potential third truck pick up the waste would be more than would be saved.
Others brought up the point that food waste and green waste are mixed anyway. Why have a third can? Plus there is the economic factor. Merced County is one of the poorest in the state and it would be more impacted by the changes for that reason than other richer counties.
When the subject was first explained by the Public Works Department, it was met with resistance from some of the supervisors who did not want to see garbage rates go up for constituents and businesses.
Supervisor Lloyd Pareira, who lives in a rural area between Merced and Snelling, said his kids mow the lawn and feed it to the cows to cut down on the impact on the landfill. Why would they need an extra waste container? Could the county come up with another strategy to separate waste and comply with the new state rules?
Ultimately, the Public Works Department was asked to come back with more details on the costs involved with both the two-container option and the three-container option. The subject will come back to the Board of Supervisors for discussion in the near future.
In Other Board Action
The Merced County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a nearly $66 million dollar bid to have Sletten Construction Company of Las Vegas expand and remodel the County Jail site. This has been months in preparation and probably would not have been done if the state had not offered to give the county $30 million to offset the cost of the project.
The project is expected to break ground in the coming year.
There was one speaker from the audience in opposition to the vote, and she said the money was needed in other areas such as Mental Health and Housing for the poor.
She said there was an unfair number of Blacks and Latinos in these facilities, and they did not rehabilitate people. She urged the Supervisors to vote No.
Merced Library Grant
Merced Library received a $10,000 Library and Services Technology Act Award to create a Pop-Up Makerspace for teens. Also three advocates of the Merced Library and Friends of the Library spoke on the importance of the work the Library was doing. The Supervisors transferred the funds to the Library.