Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Should Blaine County manage Ohio Gulch?

Change seen as way to better coordinate recycling

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County is considering taking over management of the Ohio Gulch Transfer Station, a move that could improve recycling efforts.

Currently, the station is operated by Southern Idaho Solid Waste, which manages the waste for a seven-county district that includes Blaine. However, the Ohio Gulch facility is the only transfer station in the district run by the contractor rather than by the county itself.

"It's not a matter of operational cost savings," County Commission Chairman Larry Schoen said. "It would allow for better local coordination of recycling efforts, as Blaine County seeks to do more with recycling than the other counties in the district."

The seven counties formed the district in 1992 to create a communal landfill near Burley, the terminus for the garbage taken to Ohio Gulch, north of Hailey. However, recyclable materials are sent from the Resource Recovery Center, also at the Ohio Gulch facility, to different markets, such as Boise. Inert waste, such as concrete or other materials that won't break down or harm groundwater, remain at the county's transfer station.


"There would be better coordination and messaging—letting people know what, where and how to drop off recyclable materials," Schoen said.

However, Schoen said that while such a move could improve recycling, the county would still be subject to market forces that affect recycling. Currently, the recycling program is funded by fees from the waste transfer station.

"Recycling in and of itself is a money loser," Schoen said. "[We] can't cause the county to lose [more] money, but we can do as much as we can to make it successful."

Schoen said that this discussion began in earnest this summer and a decision could be made by the end of the year.

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