Regional allies take on trash issue

April 23, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Howard County may have found some real allies in its battle against trash, members of the county's Solid Waste Advisory Committee were told last night.

Seven members of the 15-member committee were briefed on efforts by Baltimore City and other metropolitan area counties to collaborate on solutions to the problem of finding ways to recycle and dispose of solid waste.

"There is a real sense among the participants that these regional ideas have to be pursued," said John O'Hara, chief of Howard's Bureau of Environmental Services.

Mr. O'Hara said that small-scale trash-burning power plants and trash composting facilities are too costly for any jurisdiction to go it alone, and that's why jurisdictions are compelled to work together on their trash problems.

So far, Howard County has had no success convincing other counties to join it in finding more effective ways of trash disposal.

A waste-disposal consortium of Howard, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties dissolved in March 1991 after a study found that Frederick and Carroll were the best locations for regional incinerators or landfills. Frederick and Carroll indicated that regional facilities were not something they wanted to pursue.

Most of the county's trash goes to the Alpha Ridge Landfill in Marriottsville, which is expected to be at capacity by 2008. Baltimore City is in the biggest hurry to come up with waste-disposal alternatives because its landfill is expected to run out of space in 2001.

With that in mind, the city and the metropolitan area counties have signed a compact agreeing to develop a regional solid waste plan that would be coordinated with the state-mandated plans each jurisdiction is working on.

The agreement sets a target of putting a plan into operation by 1998 in order to reduce the amount of waste dumped in landfills from about 50 percent of the waste stream to only 10 percent, said Charles Krautler, executive director of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

The compact was signed three months ago by the chief executives of Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

"They're all facing the prospect of running out of landfill space," Mr. Krautler said. In Howard, for instance, advisory committee members have learned that it is more effective to both burn and compost trash than to use just one of those alternatives, said Chairwoman Miriam Mahowald. But Howard doesn't generate enough trash to do both economically, she said.

In a regional effort, Howard could build one facility, while a neighboring jurisdiction could build the other and the jurisdictions could share the benefits of both.

In fact, both Carroll and Anne Arundel are already considering trash-burning power plants.

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