Solid waste panel just not working

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 29, 2004

Having area cities and counties come together to address solidwaste management issues sounded like a good idea 10 years ago. Itstill does.

However, the particulars and participation – or lack of it bysome members of a seven-county regional authority – paint adifferent picture.

The reality is that member interest and efforts to implement asolid waste management plan, which is required under stateenvironmental laws, have dwindled to the point of making theauthority meaningless.

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Instead of following through on the plan, individual cities andcounties have been planning and managing solid waste matters ontheir own.

With garbage disposal costs at a proposed regional landfill fouror five times that of service provided by private companies,members determined that the regional approach was not economicallyfeasible. Other aspects of the regional plan, such as waste tiremanagement and identifying ways to achieve recycling goals, havealso not been implemented.

For some members, the regional approach has not even been a”back burner” issue. Apparently, it never reached the stove.

Following a meeting last week, some governing boards of citiesand counties represented in the authority are now consideringwhether they will continue to be a part of it. Brookhaven andLincoln County officials have indicated a desire to withdraw.

Despite possible costs of around $30,000, it seems the bestcourse of action would be to abandon the regional effort and letcities and counties develop their own solid waste management plans.They have been handling it themselves for the last 10 yearsanyway.

But the failure of the regional approach to solid waste shouldnot deter similar efforts on other issues, such as economicdevelopment. Southwest Mississippi needs a unified voice as we workto improve our communities.

Working together can be beneficial in a number of areas. Solidwaste management, it seems, is just not one of them.