Proposed bill jeopardizes low garbage disposal rates

Dear Editor,
Barnwell County citizens pay about 15 percent less for garbage disposal than the state average due to our agreement with the Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority (TRSWA). H. 3290, currently in the South Carolina General Assembly, directly threatens this agreement and will likely lead to an increase in cost for our citizens.
In 1998, nine counties came together to form the TRSWA in order to meet the requirements of the S.C. Solid Waste Policy and Management Act of 1991 (Act). That Act stated that a goal was to "encourage local governments to pursue a regional approach to solid waste management." The member counties funded the construction of the TRSWA Regional Landfill using revenue bonds, meaning those citizens and businesses that used the landfill paid only their fair share. This agreement has allowed Barnwell citizens to dispose of our garbage at an affordable rate for many years. This arrangement is now being threatened by H. 3290.
H. 3290 voids any ordinance which "requires disposal of waste at one or more designated solid waste management facilities" (i.e., a landfill). The ordinances, which created the TRSWA, direct the member counties' collected garbage to the TRSWA. The volume generated by such ordinances is necessary to pay the bonds and operating cost of the landfill.
If these ordinances are voided as a result of H. 3290, we will either have to raise taxes or close the TRSWA Landfill. If the TRSWA Landfill is closed, we will be forced to use one of the private landfills, which already handle 75 percent of the waste in South Carolina. This will lead to an increase in cost for our citizens as the average private landfill rate is higher than the rates we pay at TRSWA.
Barnwell needs the TRSWA landfill and its' arrangement with the other member counties to keep solid waste disposal affordable. We simply do not have the economy of scale and do not generate enough waste to affordably dispose of it without our agreement with the other member counties and the existence of the TRSWA landfill.
Another consequence of relying on private landfills is that the interstate commerce clause of the federal constitution precludes either the state or local governments from prohibiting out-of-state waste being buried there. Our inability to control what goes into private landfills has led to large amounts of the more lucrative out-of-state waste entering the landfills in our state.
H. 3290 jeopardizes our low garbage disposal rates and opens our state up to even more out-of-state garbage. Contact our senators and house members to let them know you like our low cost of garbage disposal and ask that they defeat H. 3290.

Freddie Houston,
Barnwell County
Council Chairman