Supes agree to run Chico hazardous-waste collection site

Hey, you with the car batteries and paint cans! You can stop dumping those in the river now—the county has found a place for you to go.

Though the deal isn’t final yet, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its last meeting to take over the service agreement for Chico’s household hazardous-waste collection site, which the city has operated for its residents since 1996. County residents ought to be able to start using the facility in early April, said Bonnie Low, who spearheaded the project for Butte County Public Works.

“It’s pay now or pay later,” she told the supervisors. “If we don’t have a program like this, we’ll see a lot more illegal dumping.”

The money to take over the Chico facility comes from a $289,300 grant from the state’s Integrated Waste Management Board. Low expects that amount will keep the facility going for about two years, with future funding probably coming from Neal Road Landfill tipping fees, which may go up to cover the increased costs. The county also recently procured a second grant to provide mobile collection services to county residents in outlying areas. That program could begin as early as this summer.

Low said that pulling the project together has been tough because there are dozens entities and agencies that have to sign off on it. Though the state mandated in 1989 that residents have a way to dispose of household hazardous waste, the county has struggled to provide that service, finding that the one-day collections they had been running were too inconvenient for most people.

Run out of a one-third-acre site on Marauder Street near the Chico airport, the collection facility is owned by A/C Industrial Services, which has hazardous-waste disposal contracts with all sorts of entities, including the state. Though the facility’s capacity is enough to serve the entire region, the county was unable to pay for service when it was built. Now, as part of the new deal, the county will have to pay the city of Chico almost $115,000 in administrative fees to take over the site.