2007 Solid Waste Management Plan

4.5 Rural Solid Waste Management
A quality solid waste management system depends upon an adequate infrastructure, proper equipment, trained personnel and good planning. Solid waste management programs in rural Nevada often face challenges not seen in urban areas:

    A weaker economic base with limited tax revenue
    Insufficient personnel resources
    Poor economy of scale
    Long transport distances that translate into increased costs
    Lack of recycling infrastructure

Rural local governments own all of Nevada's rural landfills, with a couple exceptions, and the public works departments operate most of them. Although many of these landfills are exempt from the federal requirements for engineered liners and ground-water monitoring, the standards of location, design, operation, closure/post-closure care and financial assurance still apply. With implementation of the RCRA Subtitle D criteria, the rural solid waste infrastructure changed from a few scattered open dumps to engineered solid waste landfills and satellite public waste storage bin facilities. With these changes more equipment was needed - bins for storage, trucks for hauling, dozers, compactors and earthmovers for landfill operations. The demand for new skills of landfill operation, solid waste planning and environmental compliance also emerged. The county governments are responsible for meeting these needs, but in several areas of the State one or more of the elements are deficient, resulting in non-compliance with solid waste regulations.

The Nevada Rural Water Association (NvRWA), a non-profit organization funded by the US Department of Agriculture, has met some of these needs by assisting rural governments with grant applications, solid waste planning, researching equipment purchases, technical guidance and training. The NDEP supports the continuation of this program.

4.5.1 Items for future consideration, Sec. 4.5 - Rural Solid Waste Management

1. Coordinate solid waste planning with Land Use Master Plans and investigate the use of State Land Use Planning Advisory Council as a solid waste planning forum.

2. Enhance existing, or establish new, training programs to help rural landfill operators meet certification requirements.

3. Continue to provide grants that support rural local governments with solid waste planning, equipment acquisition and cleanup of illegal dump sites.

4.6 Illegal Dumping and Open Burning
Illegal or open dumping is a persistent problem in both rural and urban areas of Nevada, and is perhaps best addressed within the context of the municipal solid waste management plan. The first condition for reducing illegal dumping is a solid waste management system that provides convenient solid waste services at reasonable prices. Once this is available, municipal governments can address illegal dumping through coordinated efforts of public information and enforcement by the local government, law enforcement, prosecutors and judges. NRS 444.621 to 444.645 (Appendix 5) provides municipal governments with the authority to prosecute and penalize illegal dumpers. It is recommended that local efforts consider whether the following would help to the control illegal dumping in their communities:

  • Increase the convenience and/or decrease the cost of using authorized disposal services and facilities

  • Assure enforcement of the laws against illegal dumpers in small communities

  • Promote coordination among local peace officers, prosecutors and courts to address illegal dumping problems

  • Illegal dumping problems are fundamentally local in nature. Progress in controlling them depends on the citizens and elected municipal officials putting a priority on having a clean community. Elko is an outstanding example of an area in rural Nevada where this has happened. Starting in 2005, the City of Elko led a concerted effort to reduce illegal dumping by involving its citizens and community leaders in a new organization, Elko County Against Illegal Dumping (ECAID). ECAID activities include scheduled community cleanup projects, promoting local government coordination, and a public information campaign. The Southern Nevada Health District holds a monthly Hearing Officer public meeting to hear solid waste violation cases. Most of the cases presented are due to illegal dumping, although violations of NRS 444.440 to NRS 444.645 or any regulations adopted pursuant to those sections are eligible.

    Open burning of household garbage and non-vegetation refuse is not only a public nuisance but also presents a threat to public health and the environment due to the emission of toxic substances. The US EPA has determined that open burning constitutes the largest source of dioxins released to the environment in the United States, far exceeding the emissions from commercial waste incinerators. Dioxins are carcinogenic substances that persist in the environment where it can be taken up in the food chain. Not only can nearby residents be exposed through smoke inhalation, but dioxins that falls on crops can be absorbed by plants and animals and ultimately by human consumers of those products.

    In 2004 the NDEP Bureau of Air Quality tried to address this problem by proposing new regulations limiting the open burning of solid wastes. As a result of opposition expressed to this change, especially from certain rural areas, it was determined that additional public information and education is needed before this issue will be resolved statewide. The proposed amendments were withdrawn, but some local ordinances were adopted to address this issue.

    4.6.1 Items for future consideration, Sec. 4.6 - Open Dumping and Open Burning

    1. Provide assistance to rural local government elected officials and staff that want to address illegal dumping problems, including:

      Public information and education
      The use of State grants to improve rural solid waste infrastructure
      On-site workshops to develop local strategies that include all entities and personnel that can influence open dumping
    2. Local governments, in jurisdictions where illegal dumping has become a commercial enterprise, should consider adoption of a "generator responsibility" ordinance.

    3. Conduct public outreach and education on the risks of open burning and build support for burn restrictions in rural communities.

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