Government / Politics

County takes steps to monitor landfill capacity

Law requires the facility to keep 15 years of space available for in-county use.

While San Benito County looks to fix a deteriorating John Smith Road, the Board of Supervisors took steps on April 16 to further monitor the capacity of the John Smith Road Landfill by extending engineering services until 2020. Total waste at the John Smith Road Landfill increased from 149,837 tons to about 329,500 tons between 2013 and 2016.

As of May 2018, the landfill has a capacity of 5.52 years if it continues to take out-of-county waste. The capacity increases to 29 years if it only takes in-county waste, Integrated Waste Management Regional Agency Manager Kathleen Gallagher told BenitoLink.

The extended contract with landfill operator Waste Connections Inc. will cost the county up to $46,455 in addition to the original contract valued at $17,020.

Supervisor Jim Gillio said the item was brought up because the ad hoc committee, consisting of himself and Supervisor Anthony Botelho, were concerned about the landfill’s capacity and wanted to increase the amount of monitoring.

The main issue, Gillio said, is adhering to the law requiring at least 15 years worth of space available for in-county use.

The county awarded Waste Connections Inc. the contract to operate the John Smith Road Landfill in December 2010. An amendment to increase the tonnage at the landfill was approved in September 2010. According to the Nov. 22, 2016 meeting agenda packet, the amended agreement allowed the county to release $4.2 million in the landfill reserve fund for closure and post-closure reserves because Waste Connections Inc. took over the responsibility for the financial assurances of those reserves.

According to the landfill agreement, which expires upon final closure of the landfill, the operator would redirect out-of-county garbage to an alternate landfill if the 15-year capacity threshold is reached. Supervisor Botelho said the numbers from recent years have come close to that threshold.

Gallagher clarified that the numbers are close if the county keeps taking in 1,000 tons per day, with 80% of that coming from out of the county, mostly from Gilroy and Morgan Hill.

“If we stop the out-of-county tons, we have a significant range of disposal capacity,” Gallagher said.

However, San Benito County does not have authority to stop out-of-county trash from going to the landfill before the facility reaches its 15-year capacity limit, Gallagher said.

Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz asked if there was a remedy process in case the county got contradicting reports. County counsel Barbara Thompson said she assumed there was a process set forth in the agreement in case of a dispute. But when Gillio asked about some type of mediation process, Gallagher said the landfill agreement doesn’t have one.

“It would be something we would have to take under consideration with the landfill operator,” she said.

Before voting, supervisor Peter Hernandez questioned the high percentage of out-of-county dumping. County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa responded.

“That was the contract that was negotiated with San Benito County and Waste Connections prior myself being onboard, Kathleen and part of the board,” Espinosa said. “That was the agreement that was established and that’s what it is.”

 

Other related BenitoLink articles:

Supervisors aim to expedite improvements for John Smith Road

Citizens Ask, Does It Make Cents?

Resource Recovery Park Still Hot Topic

Know Your Dump

 

 

Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.