Letter to the Editor: Waste Management Options for Town of Bluff

By Dudley Beck

With no prior communication or discussion with Town of Bluff officials, the Bluff Transfer Station was closed by the San Juan County Commissioners on November 17, 2018, exchanging the site to the Hole in the Rock Foundation for land yet to be identified.

Prior to this closure, Bluff residents carried their own trash 1.5 miles to the transfer station and paid approximately $20.00/month for trash disposal. Many paid only $10.00/month via punch cards. Reservation residents were traveling at least 3.5 miles to get to the transfer station.

Waste Disposal Replacement Options

Option One:

Any resident who chooses can immediately enter into a personal contract for a 100 gallon cart to be wheeled to the curb and emptied once/week.

Call Navajo Sanitation in Window Rock 928-871-4395
Approximate cost = $38.00/month
Waste Management.com of Four Corners 800-274-6284
Approximate cost =$30.00/month

Option Two:
Cost savings can be achieved with guaranteed volumes. For instance, in Blanding there is a mandatory trash collection fee (state law?) for all households, each receiving a 100-gallon trash cart, emptied weekly and paying $18.50/month on their monthly utility bill.

A Town of Bluff Contract:

A) A bid could go out for a service similar to Blanding’s

B) In discussions with Janie Kimbell (505-238-8121) of Four Corners Waste Management, guaranteed volumes could again lower costs. Each household generates approximately 1/2 cubic yard (100 gallon cart)/week. If 179 households in Bluff (2010 US census web site), that would equal approximately 90 cubic yards/week. This volume could be provided by eleven 8-cubic-yard locking dumpsters or twenty-two 4-cubic-yard locking dumpsters. A cost estimate of $2000/month was quoted for weekly dumping. The dumpsters could be scattered throughout the community with close access to 5-10 households. Each household would get a key for the locking lid.

Individual cost estimate:
11 dumpsters/$2000.00 If 10 households contributed to each dumpster, the individual cost would be @18.20/month.

Option Three:
I have made contact with the BLM land manager in Monticello, Norbert Norton. I’ve asked him if he could locate 1/2 acre (200ft/100ft) of land to reopen a transfer station, using the Recreation and Purposes Act. He initially advised me that he would have to check with his superiors. If this initial approval was given, we would have to complete a SF 299 Application with detailed diagrams for the site, hours of operation, etc. Once submitted, he estimated 1-2 years for final approval. I’d envisioned a 200ft/100ft area enclosed by fence with a locking gate, with either a rolloff, similar to the old San Juan County site, or four to five 8-cubic-yard working dumpsters. We would have to staff it for open hours. I’d recommend minimum of $15.00/hour salary plus benefits. Fees should cover dumping and salary costs.

Start up costs would be fencing.

Option Four:
We could purchase our own truck and locking dumpsters. A Quote from Waste Quit is pending. eBay? A salaried employee could empty dumpsters and staff the transfer station.

Obviously convenience vs individual cost must be considered for each of these options. Individual contracts can be done immediately. Community wide options would require weeks or months. The 11-mile drive to the landfill, of course, is available now for at least $10.00/trip plus gas.

–Dudley Beck, Bluff resident.