El Paso Adopts Flow Control
Opponents of the Camino Real Landfill in Sunland Park found an unexpected champion in their campaign to close the landfill: the El Paso City Council. On Aug. 24, the council took the forward-looking step to adopt “Flow Control,” an ordinance that will require all commercial waste in the city be dumped at city landfills.
Currently, residential waste goes to the City of El Paso Landfill near Clint, but all commercial waste, 600,000 tons per year, goes to the privately owned Camino Real. Diversion of commercial waste to the public landfill, starting Sept. 1, 2011, means Camino Real will lose 80-90% of its business.
Realizing that Flow Control could mean closure of the landfill, Waste Connections Inc., owners of Camino Real and one of the largest waste haulers in the nation, offered the city $2.5 million a year if the City Council rejected Flow Control and extended its contract for another 15 years.
In its 6-2 vote in support of Flow Control, the council simultaneously voted to reject the multimillion-dollar offer. Voting in the majority were Susie Byrd, Emma Acosta, Rachel Quintana, Eddie Holguin, Steve Ortega and Beto O’Rourke.
City officials say that by more than doubling the flow of waste into city landfills, they will save residents money, while expanding recycling and initiating programs that convert waste to energy. The policy will also help the city realize a number of sustainability projects, including composting, solar projects, renewable energy, LEED buildings, and an expanded recycling program.
In order to handle the increased volume of waste going to the Clint Landfill, it will have to be enlarged, and the McCombs Landfill will have to be reopened. This will require an upfront capitol investment of $18.5 million by the City, which they expect to recover in less than five years.
Camino Real Landfill opponents have long argued it was a mistake to site a landfill over water, fearing contamination. The landfill is situated atop the Mesilla Bolson, one of two major aquifers in the region that supplies El Paso with its drinking water.
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