The Board of Charles County Commissioners recently approved revisions to the county’s solid waste management plan to reflect changes in operational procedures and to reflect the permitting of a privately owned composting facility.
The changes in the plan were necessary because of the closure of a site in Benedict for dropping off oil and antifreeze, the opening of the mulching facility in Piney Church and changes to the hours of operations for the county’s landfill, all of which happened since the last time the plan was reviewed.
The revision also reflects the closure of the composting facility at the county landfill and the opening of Calvert Wood Recycling, a 23-acre privately owned and operated composting facility on Ripley Road in La Plata.
The current solid waste plan, which spells out the provisions for the county’s recycling and solid waste services, is in effect until 2021. State regulations require that the plan be reviewed at least once every three years, at which time amendments or revisions can be adopted.
Frances Sherman, superintendent of litter control and recycling in the Department of Public Works, told the commissioners that in 2028, the county added 110,587 tons of waste to the landfill, the fifth year in a row that the amount of waste added increased over the previous year. Between 2011 and 2013, the amount of waste added to the landfill dropped by 14,000 tons.
In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the county achieved a “waste diversion” rate of 50%. This includes both recycling and a “source reduction credit,” which the state awards for composting, public education programs and research programs in the county.
The 50% rate is the lowest rate achieved in the county since an all-time high of 59% in 2011, but still well above the Maryland Department of the Environment’s waste diversion goal of 40%.
As of two years ago, the county landfill on Billingsley Road in Waldorf had over 856,000 cubic yards of available space left. At an average of 100,000 tons of waste added per year, the department of public works anticipates the landfill will reach its full capacity in 2022, instead of 2025 as originally planned.
The county is exploring ways to extend the life of the landfill, including the construction of a new transfer station to ship waste to other landfills outside the county and the construction of an additional cell at the existing facility.
The 2020 fiscal year budget adopted in May included an estimated increase to the average quarterly residential water and sewer bill of a little over 12%, from just under $162 per quarter to just over $181.
The increase reflects the need for additional revenue to pay for continued improvements to the county’s water supply and sewage system and to make up for decreases in revenues from sludge processing and water consumption.
The bill hike also reflects an increase in debt service for capital improvement bonds.