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Washington County Commissioners double funding for trash study

July 12, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Commissioners have doubled funding for a study to find ways to reduce the amount of trash that is buried at the landfill every year.

The $150,000 study, which will be performed by an outside consultant, will examine not only the feasibility of curbside recycling but will be a full-blown assessment of the county's solid waste system that could include recommendations on things such as methane collection and waste-to-energy incineration.

The idea, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said, is to "get out front" in the battle to reduce waste.

"How do we stop putting trash in the ground? That is what we're interesting in finding out here," Murray said.

The county buries more than 100,000 tons of waste in the Forty West Landfill every year, Murray said.

While counties such as Frederick and Montgomery have expanded curbside recycling programs and are either using or studying waste-to-energy incinerators, Washington County has yet to adopt such measures.

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Residents here can drop recycling in collection bins around the county or at the landfill, but Murray said the county must do more.

The County Commissioners voted Tuesday to expand the scope of work - and funding - for a study that will be advertised soon.

Only Commissioner William J. Wivell did not vote to increase funding for the study.

The estimated cost of $150,000 is nearly twice the $76,000 that was budgeted for the study in the Fiscal 2009 budget.

The scope of the study has changed significantly since it was first proposed in April.

While the original study largely focused on recycling - including the feasibility of curbside recycling - the new study will examine current trash and recycling services and will include a cost analysis of several alternatives, such as methane collection, waste-to-energy incinerators and trucking trash out of the county.

Not all of the alternatives will be instituted immediately or even at all, but they are worth examining as the county plans for the future, Murray said.

"Originally, the study put an emphasis on recycling and kind of deferred looking at other technologies. This way, everything is deferred a little bit but we're getting a complete look at what's out there," Murray said.

Frederick and Carroll counties recently agreed to consider the feasibility of building a trash incinerator.

Murray said an effective combustion program could reduce buried trash in Washington County's landfill by 50 percent.

Wivell, who abstained from the vote, said he would prefer if the county had decided on a method before advertising a study.

"Many times, these kind of studies do not have much of a return," Wivell said.

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