Perspective: 5th District
Changes are coming to the Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA).
For many communities in Atlantic County the ACUA for years has been the agency where household, construction, demolition and recycling materials have been sent to for disposal. During that time since the 1990s how this generated trash has been disposed of has changed as well.
From its beginning, the Pinelands Commission and New Jersey State Government recognized the need to collect this trash at one common location in each county as opposed to every municipality having local landfills that posed a threat to groundwater contamination and other environmental issues.
The way the ACUA has disposed of this material has changed through the years as well. In the beginning all municipalities and private waste haulers were required to transport their materials to the ACUA facility located on Delilah Road in Egg Harbor Twp. The state of New Jersey had discussions on building an incinerator facility in every county in N.J. and a couple were built around the state as a way to dispose of this material but this never occurred in Atlantic County.
When the ACUA started accepting waste material, a transfer station was built and all waste was dumped on a floor sorting occurred to remove all metal, cardboard and other reusable materials in the most efficient way. All other material was loaded on tractor trailers and hauled to approved landfills for disposal as required. This process was not without its cost to do so as private haulers were contracted to provide this service and it was costly.
The ACUA then completed the approval process to dispose of this material at its approved landfill located at their facility in Egg Harbor Twp. and the residents of Atlantic County enjoyed a substantial trash rate decrease in the cost per ton for disposal.
As with all landfills, they eventually reach their full capacity and must be closed properly per NJDEP regulations and permanently capped.
Today the ACUA is starting the process to address how and where they will dispose of this material after the landfill closes within the next five years. They have gone out to bid to see if private haulers can be contracted to haul waste from its already permitted and approved transfer station or if another developing technology can be implemented to dispose of the material at a cost that Atlantic County residents can afford. Whatever way is chosen and decided, it will not be cheap; landfills have normally been the least expensive alternative eliminating much of the fuel, labor and trucking expense all currently experience today.
Providing a quality of life and disposing of what humans consume has always been challenging and cost driven, but will we be willing to pay more for this service moving forward?