Monday, October 04, 2021

Oconee County Commission To Vote On Solid Waste Management Plan

***County Says It Has Capacity For 10 Years***

Oconee County commissioners on Tuesday night will be asked to give final approval to a Regional Solid Waste Management Plan that requires Oconee County to provide assurance that it has solid waste handling capability and capacity for at least 10 years.

The plan covers the 10-county jurisdiction of the Northeast Georgia Regional Solid Waste Management Authority and includes a facility inventory, an analysis of land designated as not suitable for solid waste handling facilities, a report of accomplishments, and a community work program for the next 10 years.

The Plan covers Oconee County and its four cities, Bishop, Bogart, North High Shoals, and Watkinsville.

Across the region, the plan covers 47 municipalities in the 10 counties.

In 2018, the average disposal rate was calculated as 4.24 pounds per person per day in the region.

If that figure holds constant, the annual tonnage of solid waste in the region is projected to grow from 509,149 in 2020 to 615,761 in 2031, the final year for the plan to be considered by the commissioners on Tuesday night.

The report states that adequate capacity exists for the next 10 years in the region but calls for a reduction in the amount of solid waste produced by individuals as well as planning for future facilities.

Oconee County’s solid waste is trucked to Waste Management R&B Landfill in Banks County, which provided a 10-year capacity assurance letter for the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan.

Agenda-Setting Meeting

Cindy Pritchard, executive director of the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission, in presenting the plan at the Board of Commissioners Agenda-Setting meeting on Sept. 28, said the plan “meets the state requirement for all local governments to have a solid waste management plan.”

Pritchard Before Commission 9/28/2021

The plan is an update of the 2004 and 2011 solid waste management plans.

“We worked through this,” Pritchard said. “This has been months in the process. We updated and tweaked and filled in everything. There's no major changes.”

The county held a public hearing on the plan at 3 p.m. on Aug. 31, with five people in attendance.

Four of those were county employees, and one was from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, which assembled the plan on behalf of the Northeast Georgia Solid Waste Management Authority.

I had planned to write about the plan before that public hearing but did not do so. The Oconee Enterprise also has not written about the plan.

The commissioners, at the agenda-setting meeting, put approval of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan on its consent agenda for final approval on Tuesday.

Regional Perspective

The 10-county Northeast Georgia Solid Waste Management Authority covers Oconee and Clarke counties, the seven surrounding counties of Barrow, Jackson, Madison, Oglethorpe, Greene, Morgan, and Walton, and Elbert County.

10-County Region In Red Border

Athens-Clarke County owns a landfill partially in Oglethorpe County that serves those two counties.

The Republic Services Oak Grove Landfill in Barrow County is the recipient of municipal solid waste from Morgan, Walton, Jackson, and Elbert counties.

Oconee, Jackson, and Madison counties truck their waste to Waste Management R&B Landfill in Banks County.

Greene County hauls its municipal waste to the Advanced Disposal Wolf Creek Landfill in Twiggs County.

Walton County has three construction and demolition landfills, and Oglethorpe County has one.

Oconee Disposal

The Oconee County section of the plan reports the Banks County landfill received 674.4 tons of municipal solid waste in 2020 from Oconee County.

Flow Of Municipal Waste

Oconee County sent industrial waste to Barrow County and construction and demolition waste to Hall, Oglethorpe, and Walton counties. The total tonnage for all waste from the county was 23,518.0.

“Collection programs for solid waste are sufficient to meet existing community needs,” according to the plan.

“The more populated areas have curbside collection services available, while five staffed convenience centers are available for solid waste and recyclable materials for all residents,” the plan states.

The planning document states that county’s waste generation is expected to increase from between 20 and 33 percent over the next 10 years.

“The County plans to continue relying on out-of-county private facilities for disposal services,” it states.

Oconee Programs

The county lists a number of education and involvement programs designed to address solid waste.

The county is a member of the Keep Georgia Beautiful program through its Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission (KOCBC), funded by the county and local donations.

KOCBC holds roadside litter cleanup events monthly and coordinates with the county Public Works Department for an Adopt-A-Mile program, where individuals or organizations agree to take responsibility for cleanup of a section of roadway.

At present, according to the report, 85 groups are participating in that program.

KOCBC also participates in the Rivers Alive cleanup, with 12 to 15 participants annually.

KOCBC also performs outreach and provides educational videos and other material for recycling and solid waste tips on the Oconee County webpage.


The video embedded below is from the Sept. 28 meeting of the Board of Commissioners and is on the county’s YouTube site.

The meeting starts at 1:22 in the video.

Pritchard began comments at 3:30 in the video.

The meeting lasted only a little more than 10 minutes.

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