Santa Cruz County residents demand more recycling and waste reduction
Where does your trash end up? Is a landfill an appropriate land
use in the Coastal Zone? Is building another landfill or shipping
trash to a Monterey County site a 21st century solution for disposing
of solid waste?
Santa Cruz County residents forcefully expressed their opinion
on these issues at a standing-room-only meeting at the 784-seat
Henry Mello Center in Watsonville on September 2. The meeting was
called to solicit comments on 23 sites proposed for the next Santa
Cruz County landfill. Sites in Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Monterey and
San Benito Counties had been selected by County Public Works staff
and the Integrated Waste Management Task Force, composed of elected
officials and representatives of all the cities and the county.
Early in the meeting 10 sites were deleted from consideration.
Residents of areas still under consideration gave testimony lasting
three more hours. Many corrections were offered to the data presented
by the staff on rainfall levels, fault zones, aquifers, domestic
water intake, well levels, recharge areas, endangered species, road
dimensions, traffic volumes and collision figures.
Most speakers came in defense of a particular site or area, but
all were united in calling for a "21st century solution"
to the County's growing solid waste problem. Landfills were characterized
as an outmoded approach, no longer appropriate given the volume
and composition of modern trash. Few spoke in support of sending
trash to the Marina landfill, despite the fact that administrators
of that facility had solicited Santa Cruz County's business.
In the last half-hour, a motion to dismiss from further consideration
an additional seven sites left only three. Finally, as substantial
testimony had been received regarding the geologic, Land Trust status,
and environmental justice aspects of the remaining three sites,
the Task Force unanimously declared all the sites unsuitable for
The Task Force will recommend to the Board of Supervisors that
they explore alternatives to landfilling, including collecting household
kitchen waste with greenwaste for composting, expanded commercial
and residential recycling, and waste conversion technology.
The only real solution to the growing problem of waste generated
by the increasing population in Santa Cruz County will be found
by reducing consumption while increasing recycling. The Santa Cruz
Group of the Sierra Club has requested that Santa Cruz County redirect
funds from landfill site acquisition and proposed road modifications
needed for a new landfill to efforts that will increase recycling
and reduce solid waste.
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