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Why we need to expand the Stockton landfill

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POSTED September 21, 2013 12:53 a.m.

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will hear a lot of reasons on Tuesday why expanding the for-profit landfill on Austin Road is a bad idea.

In the interest of fairness, they should consider reasons why Forward Landfill should be allowed to double its operations by expanding onto another 184 acres of prime farmland.

 •It will help put Stockton on the map.

Having more garbage to move around means more seagulls. That means an increase in the potential for birds striking planes landing and taking off from nearby Stockton Metro Airport. If a seagull can take down an Allegiant Airlines passenger plane, it’s good enough for at least three minutes on the network news and a day or so of 24/7 cable coverage.

•Tourism.

People love landmarks. At 210 feet and growing, the landfill is a prominent visual attraction much like Half Dome in Yosemite. Expansion means more people will see it from Highway 99 as they zip through San Joaquin County piquing their curiosity to see how beautiful the rest of Stockton is. As a bonus it is sure to attract investment in the proposed employment center on the northeast flank of Stockton Metro Airport as executives really love locations with a view. Nothing says what kind of business San Joaquin County means more than a landfill nestled among prime business park land.

•Civic pride.

Expanding the landfill gives San Joaquin County a shot at being the top county in California when it comes to per capita burying of garbage. There are 2.3 tons per capita buried there each year. That is surpassed only by Solano and Kings counties. The state’s Cal Recycle website notes 72 percent of the waste processed at Forward Landfill is imported into the county primarily from the Bay Area.

•Bolstering the local economy.

Groundwater contamination from the landfill already has forced several nearby homes to buy bottled water for drinking. Extend the life of the landfill and with a little luck the contamination will worsen and get into underground aquifers which in turn could help the bottled water business boom.

•Opening new agricultural markets.

If the groundwater contamination component of the Forward Landfill operation is expanded it could lead to opening new markets for San Joaquin County farmers. Organic food is so passé. What American consumers want is fruits and vegetables grown using tainted water.

•Creating Bay Area ambiance.

As it is, state studies show that only 20 percent of the dirty air in the Northern San Joaqain Valley is attributable to pollution blowing in from the East Bay via the Altamont Pass. Increase garbage truck traffic upwards to 900 trips a day and not only would we get more garbage sent our way from the Bay Area but also dirtier air.

•Support of San Joaquin County’s top industry.

Who cares about agriculture? So what if it supports more families in this county than any other private sector endeavor or that it is No.1 in terms of dollars that it generates? The real goal for the Board of Supervisors should be to support the county’s top industry and not the No. 1 industry. The top industry, of course, is converting prime farmland into McMansions that only people who commute from jobs in the Silicon Valley can afford. And with 184 acres of prime farmland going to garbage what better way for the Board of Supervisors to say what they really think of agriculture and to demonstrate how they value Bay Area garbage over local jobs.

•The creation of a California Garbage Zone.

We already are blessed with a new $900 million super state prison hospital. Study after study has shown the families of criminals incarcerated in state prisons move to be near their kin behind bars. This of course has an impact on local welfare and crime rates. Since human garbage from throughout California will be imported to San Joaquin County why not bring the non-human garbage here as well with a super landfill right next door?

•Supporting the objectives of the Twin Tunnels plan.

The Twin Tunnels as proposed besides devastating the Delta for the benefit of Los Angeles, the East Bay and Wall Street farming corporations will also wipe out a third of the county’s farming enterprises and take a huge swath of prime farmland with it. It’s all in the name of swimming pools for LA and Silicon Valley folks making $200,000 a year and up being able to wash down their driveways every day. Taking out another 184 acres of prime farmland and jeopardize agricultural water supplies would show the Board of Supervisors really do support the ultimate goals of the Twin Tunnels.

What’s not to like about expanding the landfill on Austin Road?

We should do if for no other reason than to show we are all in this together as Californians.

It’s a fair trade, isn’t it? The Bay Area makes San Joaquin County its de facto affordable housing solution, sends air pollution our way, and wants to wipe out water supplies for farmers and the Delta eco-system so they can protect their supply of water. For all of that, they will graciously send us their garbage through at least 2039.

What more could we possibly want?

Besides jobs created by business parks around the airport, passenger service out of Stockton Airport, clean drinking water, local jobs, clean air, and agriculture are so overrated.





This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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