Solid Waste Collection and Disposal
The following information is designed to address questions from residents of El Dorado County about garbage rates and waste management fees assessed on property within the County, and solid waste collection and disposal.
Garbage Collection Franchise History
El Dorado County, the City of Placerville, and the City of South Lake Tahoe have entered into franchise agreements with solid waste companies, which provide solid waste collection, recycling, and disposal.
During the 1950's, garbage collection franchise areas were established within portions of the County, and private companies were issued exclusive contracts to haul garbage within these assigned areas. By evolution, exclusive contracts were deemed necessary to insure organized, cost effective, and efficient service throughout the County. In 1971, a "redistricting" of the franchise areas was passed by County Ordinance. The Ordinance created (7) distinct garbage collection areas or corridors based on such factors as road and bridge infrastructure, proximity to landfill sites, etc. These franchise areas remain in effect today. The Franchise companies and service areas are noted on the table below: The County, with the assistance of a consultant, has conducted a rate audit of three of the franchise companies.
Solid Waste Collection Franchises
- El Dorado Disposal
Area Served: West County along Highway 50 Corridor (Pollock Pines west to El Dorado Hills) and Placerville City Limits
- American River Disposal
Area Served: High Mountain County (Pacific House, Crystal Basin, Kyburz, Strawberry, Echo Summit)
- Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal Company
Area Served: Unincorporated portion of West Lake Tahoe Basin (including Meeks Bay and Tahoma)
- South Tahoe Refuse Company
Area Served: Unincorporated portion of South Lake Tahoe Basin (including Meyers, Christmas Valley, and Hope Valley)
- Amador Disposal Company
Area Served: South County (Somerset, Grizzly Flats, Mt. Aukum)
- Sierra Disposal Service
North County (Coloma, Pilot Hill, Cool, Lotus, Georgetown, Garden Valley, Greenwood, Auburn Lake Trails)
Hazardous Waste in El Dorado County
The citizen's of El Dorado County including industry, government, agriculture and residential sources are not large generators of hazardous waste. The majority (90+%) of the hazardous waste stream in El Dorado County consists of waste oil, old paint and lead acid car batteries. There are now at least 21 public waste oil collection sites are now open 7 days/week which the County, in part, has funded. But, for old paint and car batteries as well as for uncommon items such as expired or banned pesticides, herbicides, solvents, paint strippers, etc., the County has previously implemented periodic one day collection events. However, in the interest of both cost effectiveness and convenience, the County in a cooperative arrangement with the El Dorado Hills Fire Department, Lake Valley Fire Department, So. Tahoe Refuse Co., Inc. (So. Lake Tahoe) and Western El Dorado Recovery Systems, Inc. (Diamond Springs) have opened opening permanent collection facilities for hazardous waste. The County continues to conduct one day collection events in the more remote areas including Meek's Bay, Mt. Aukum and the Georgetown-Divide.
Additionally, all solid waste collected by the private franchises must now be screened for hazardous waste. This entails inspecting random loads and removing any hazardous waste noted and educating all landfill users of hazardous waste laws to insure that hazardous waste does not get buried at any landfill. This new requirement has also increased the cost of refuse collection.
Mandated Recycling and Waste Reduction
Assembly Bill 939 became law on January 1, 1990 and mandates that every County and City divert their waste from landfills 25% by 1995 and 50% by 2000 or face $10,000 per day fines. To accomplish these requirements, the County and the Cities have prepared and adopted an Integrated Waste Management Plan. This Plan has been developed by the El Dorado County Waste Management Task Force in a cooperative effort overseen by the respective city councils and the Board of Supervisors. The key to successful diversion includes an integrated approach including programs for source reduction, composting and recycling. To accomplish the waste diversion goals, the County franchises have built regional Material Recovery Facilities (MRF's). These facilities process solid wastes through a sorting line and recyclables are diverted to market.
The County is currently diverting approx. 40% of solid waste from landfills. Significant steps must still be taken to get us to the mandated 50% level. Additional infrastructure such as a potential Georgetown MRF, enhanced public education, better responsiveness by the public and more aggressive recycling will be essential to meet the mandate.
Rural Transfer Stations
Sierra Disposal Service is proposing to build a small volume transfer station and recycling facility within the Georgetown/Divide area. Such a facility is imperative to combat illegal dumping and to provide convenient opportunities for disposal and the recycling of materials. Similar small scale facilities may also be proposed in other portions of the County.
Litter Pickup Program
El Dorado County operates a roadside litter collection program. Litter is collected by permanent staff and low-risk inmates from the County Jail. Litter is collected along the County maintained roads and the State Highways. Because there are literally thousands of miles of County maintained roadways within the County, priority is given to the more heavily used roadways and those where significant accumulations of litter exist.
Department Environmental Health Specialists also enforce the County's solid waste ordinance. This ordinance governs the accumulation, storage, collection and disposal of solid waste generated on residential, commercial and industrial properties within the County. If you are aware of significant accumulations of litter along a County roadway, please contact us at 530-621-5300.
The Union Mine projects and general waste management programs have been funded without debt service utilizing a host of funding mechanisms including franchise fees, tipping fees, Gate Fee surcharges, and parcel fees. Over the past 10 years, the County has invested over $20 million dollars in waste management programs primarily expenses associated with Union Mine. The annual solid waste parcel fee has been in place since 1989. The current fee is $17 per EDU (Equivalent Dwelling Unit) which has been stable since 1992. This annual fee cannot be increased without voter approval. Please note that larger waste generators such as supermarkets, shopping centers, restaurants, etc. are assessed a higher parcel fee via an EDU multiplier. The solid waste parcel fee generates approx. $1 million dollars per year.
There is also an annual household hazardous waste parcel fee of $3/EDU which is assessed Countywide. These funds help support the collection and disposal of hazardous waste at the El Dorado Hills Fire Station, Meyer's Fire Station and at one day events periodically held throughout the County.
Lastly, there is an annual $15 per parcel fee is assessed and collected on your annual tax bill (only those parcels serviced by a septic tank are assessed the fee). This revenue supported the capitalization of the $8 million dollar Union Mine septic tank treatment plant and now helps offset on-going operational costs. This facility was built with County rate payer funds and is where all the County septic tank pumpers deliver their septic tank waste. If your septic tank has never been pumped then you obviously save the +/-$300 fee charged by the septage haulers. As reflected in the chart below, it is substantially less costly to both construct and operate a septic tank system vs. a public sewerage system such as EID.