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Garbage going greener
Manteca moving to fuel trucks with food waste
Manteca will soon truck its garbage to the Lovelace Transfer station just north of the city. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca is going to spend money to save money.

Faced with draconian state requirements regarding burying less garbage as well as tighter air quality standards for the Northern San Joaquin Valley, Manteca is getting ready to deploy a cutting edge solid waste collection and disposal strategy.

Initially, it could mean higher rates but — if all goes according to the plan — Manteca garbage customers may ultimately end up having another long run of stable monthly garbage collection rates.

Manteca has gone 14 years without a rate hike. It is the longest stretch of any city in the Northern San Joaquin Valley for not having rate increases.

“It’s an amazing run,” noted Public Works Director Mark Houghton.

The City Council Tuesday entered into an agreement with San Joaquin County for solid waste transfer station services that includes food waste, commingled recyclables, and green waste at a cost not exceeding $2.25 million a year. Garbage would be taken to the Lovelace station north of Manteca and the food waste separated out and trucked back to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The city is taking advantage of having a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant to comply with state mandates about air quality and solid waste to ultimately continue having the lowest municipal utilities in the region.

The city is moving toward a system where food waste — which ultimately the state is prohibiting from being buried in landfills — will be taken to the wastewater treatment plant where it will be combined with other organic waste to produce methane gas to fuel the city’s fleet of 30 solid waste trucks.

In the end it will reduce future disposal costs, help clean the air, and allow Manteca to avoid costly air quality and solid disposal fines.

And while initially the contract approved would increase disposal costs $424,000 a year it will be more than offset by reduced travel of solid waste trucks, fuel savings, decreased fleet maintenance, personnel vacancies by being able to eliminate collection routes, being able to add new routes that have more stops per driver, and other operational reprioritizing.

Houghton told the council it is likely to require rate increases. He assured Mayor Steve DeBrum that if rate hikes are needed, that it would be done in stages.

Manteca and other California jurisdictions are facing a series of state mandates for waste disposal and operation of municipal equipment.

50 percent of all garbage must be diverted from landfills.

75 percent of all commercial waste must be recycled.

green waste such as lawn clippings ill no longer be counted as being diverted even though it is being recycled into compost.

food waste and organic material eventually will be prohibited from being put in landfills. By April 1, 2016 and account Manteca serves that produce 8 or more cubic yards of organic waste a week must be recycled. By Jan. 1, 2017 that drops down to any concern producing more than 4 cubic yards of waste a week. Then on Jan. 1, 2019 the new threshold will be 2 cubic yards per week.

biosolids at the wastewater treatment plant can no longer be put in landfills.

the city’s biogas boilers at the wastewater treatment plant do not meet new standards.

biogas flare burning off methane gas at the treatment plant no longer meets air quality standards.

the city’s fleet of garbage trucks has to be converted to clean burning fuels by 2030 at $350,000 per truck.

An audit conducted by dumping the contents of Toters and dumpsters out on large canvases and shifting through it, shows that 40 percent of Manteca’s 48,000 tons of garbage that is collected and buried at the landfill on Austin Road is food waste.

Faced with two objectives — meeting new mandates and keeping ratepayer costs low in the long haul — the city last year started cobbling together an economic conservation program enlisted green technology.

The result is a green tech solution that is designed to bring Manteca into compliance with current standards and future ones expected from the state as well as keep ratepayer rates low in the long run.

Year-to-year savings

will pile up for city’s

solid waste collection

The plan calls to stop hauling solid waste directly to the privately run landfill on Austin Road east of Stockton Metro Airport and instead go to the Lovelace Transfer Station operated by the county just a mile north of Manteca’s city limits.

The reduction in miles traveled alone will allow the city to

ureduce fleet mileage for waste trucks by 50 percent,

increase disposal site trips to one a day per driver.

reduce fuel costs by 55 percent or $225,000 annually.

reduce tire costs by 60 percent of $72,000 annually,

reduce water use by 60 percent since Lovelace is paved

reduce maintenance costs by $160,000 (labor excluded) or by 55 percent annually.

reduce the truck fleet by 30 percent to avoid spending $2.25 million on new trucks as more routes can be done by each truck each day.

reduce the current need to hire more personnel to keep up with growth.

eliminate weather and traffic delays.

Most of the fuel, maintenance, wear and tear and water savings come from not having to shift into lower gear to drive refuse trucks on dirt paths that are often muddy and uphill to tip garbage into the landfill on Austin Road.

Since the city has to replace digesters at the treatment plant anyway to meet new state standards, they would be used to create gas that can power the new clean burning rules the city needs to buy to meet new state mandates.

Since Manteca is the only wastewater treatment plant in the area equipped for such gas production, it can broker a deal to take that city’s recyclables that now currently have a market value of zero and exchange it for Tracy’s organic food waste. That would save Manteca the expense if having to sort and recycle its own recyclables if the market for such items continues not to be profitable for a contractor to do the work as is currently happening.

The food waste would be collected at Lovelace, grind it into a pulp, and transport it to the Manteca wastewater treatment plant where it would be fed into the digesters to produce clean burning gas to fuel garbage trucks.