Representatives of the Millwood City Council showed up at their meeting Monday night prepared to tidy up their approach to waste management.
Every five years, the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System 20-year waste management plan is reviewed according to state law and revised, updated and amended as necessary. The document outlines policies to handle some 550,000 tons of garbage generated in Spokane County each year.
The regional system dates back to the early 1980s when a feasibility study determined that an alternative to landfills would benefit the environment. An interlocal agreement was drawn up between the county and the city of Spokane which manages the system. By the early 1990s, transfer stations, including the site on Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley, were built to address the area’s waste management concerns.
On Monday night, Russ Menke, director of SRSWS, provided Millwood council members with an overview of the 20-year plan, including a summary of nearly 80 recommendations contained in the most recent version.
Menke described how cities like Millwood can delegate authority on such a program, work collaboratively with the regional entity or develop their own plan. The latest rendition was approved by Spokane County last September. Fairfield and Spokane have subsequently given the OK. Menke is scheduled to speak before the Spokane Valley City Council on March 23.
The first public hearings on the plan took place last April. Menke said the goal is to have area jurisdictions give their stamp approval over the next few months and forward the plan to the Department of Ecology for final review this summer.
After Menke’s presentation, the Millwood Council approved the updated guidelines with a unanimous vote.
“There’s been a lot of work that has gone into this,” said Millwood Mayor Dan Mork “It’s quite a document.”
Among the recommendations listed in the plan include a proposal to maintain the region’s waste energy facility after bond retirement. There is also talk of replacing the current “multi-stream” approach to recycling – in which residents set out their recyclables in a blue bin – with a “single-stream” program that would incorporate a designated container similar to a garbage can and allow for more items to be sorted later at a material recovery station.
Menke described how there has also been discussion “to assess the need for new or upgraded transfer stations.” He added that consideration has been made for more regional governance through an entity exercising more authority than the current SRSWS advisory board which now consists of 15 representatives, including Spokane Valley City Council Member Gary Schimmels. Such a group would be established by an interlocal agreement and have more say on issues like setting rates and levels of service.
Around 42 percent of the solid waste from Spokane County is recycled each year, totaling approximately 232,000 tons. Another 260,000 tons find its way into the incinerator where it is burned to recover energy.
Suzanne Tresko, recycling coordinator for SRSWS, said Spokane County is consistently among the state’s top five regions for recycling efficiency.
“We’ve been 40 percent or above since 1994,” Tresko said. “Everyone is doing a great job. Can we do better? Absolutely.”
In other council news:
- Council unanimously approved the installment of Tom Richardson as city clerk and Debbie Matkin as city treasurer. Richardson’s salary was also amended to reflect the change from part-time to full-time status.
- Mork tentatively scheduled a meeting on municipal traffic issues for Monday, March 29 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. He said the discussion would include the latest research from Welch/Comer Engineers from a traffic study that charted speeds and vehicle counts on residential streets such as Empire and Fowler. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have voiced concern with reckless driving on the roads.
- Council approved the renewal of the animal protection contract with Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services.
- Mork said bids for a new reader board in front of City Hall will be going out soon. The new device will be distinguishable to northbound and southbound traffic on Argonne and replace the current reader board which Mork described as “tough to read.”