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Garbage disposal still a good deal on Whidbey Island

The cost to dispose of Whidbey Island’s garbage will stay much the same for the next three years, which could give local garbage customers a slight break compared to those of neighboring counties.

Last week, the Board of Island County Commissioners approved new solid waste and septage tipping fees for 2004-06. According to the county’s solid waste manager, Dave Bonvouloir, the new rates, which are almost identical to the old rates, are still a reasonable deal.

Bonvouloir said the rates aren’t changing much, which is a rarity in any business, let alone the public sector.

“We’re pretty pleased to keep the rates down,” said Bonvouloir.

Tipping fees are set every three years and have actually dropped since 1995. The price to dispose of municipal solid waste will remain at $85 a ton, a rate that has held steady since 2001.

According to Bonvouloir, the only fee increase will be the garbage dump fee charged for each vehicle dumping at the county’s Coupeville waste transfer station. It will rise from $3.38 to $4.15 per customer, an 8 percent increase.

From 1995-97, the tipping rate was $105 a ton, and from 1998-2000 was decreased to $88 a ton. It was furthered lowered to $85 a ton for 2001-03.

According to Bonvouloir, Whidbey Island’s garbage is sorted for recyclables on the island, and is then trucked to Seattle. It then travels with the city of Seattle’s garbage by barge to Oregon. It ends up in Arlington, Ore., which is on the Columbia River between the The Dalles and Hermiston.

The weather conditions of Arlington make it a optimum site for garbage, according to Bonvouloir. It receives less rainfall than the Seattle area, and has a state of the art landfill.

“It is the best way to handle the problem,” said Bonvouloir.

Island County has been using the Arlington landfill since January 1992. The county’s closed its landfill near Coupeville in 1993. It contains over 350,000 tons of waste, and is now one of seven closed landfills that are continually monitored in Island County.

Other charges at the Coupeville Transfer Station include $6.27 for one can or bundle of waste, which will include the $4.15 vehicle fee. Clean yard debris is $60 a ton, or two-thirds the cost of solid waste. It is stockpiled, chipped and given free to customers who request it. Appliances are taken at $17 each, and tires at $6 each.

The county’s septage tipping fee also stayed the same. Waste pumped out of septic systems can be disposed of at a rate of 14.5 cents a gallon, said Bonvouloir.

According to an Island County solid waste program fact sheet, over 2.6 million gallons of septage is treated by the county’s waste treatment plant. Septage is pumped by licensed haulers and delivered to the treatment plant in Coupeville. Effluent from the plant is used on local forests and farms.

Customers who use the county’s waste program daily were unaware new rates had been approved. Dave Campbell, owner of Island Recycling in Freeland, had not heard the new rates were adopted.

“I didn’t even know it happened,” said Campbell.

(INFO BOX)

Municipal solid waste fees in neighboring counties in June 2003

Island Jefferson San Juan Skagit Snohomish

Minimum charge

$3.38 $4.95 $2 $5 $15.10-16.75

Per ton

$85 $110 $194 $85.99 $89

— Source: 2004-06 Island County rate study

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