Environment File

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Morinville now tosses almost a third less trash than it did two years ago, according to a recent report, despite the town’s growing population.

Morinville town council got an update on the effects of its new curbside recycling and yard waste program at a meeting earlier this month. The town brought in the program in mid-2009 for about $2.3 million.

Morinville sent just 6,576 tonnes of trash to the dump in 2010, according to public works director Claude Valcourt, down 29 per cent from 2008, despite growing by almost 200 homes. “Although we have more people in town, the rate of garbage going to the landfill is decreasing.”

The city collected about 40 per cent more compost in 2010 than it did in the previous year, according to the report, and about 0.2 per cent less commercial waste. Residential waste spiked to 3,151 tonnes in 2009 before falling to 2,704 this year. The spike was probably due to residents ditching junk that wouldn’t be accepted by the curbside program, Valcourt said.

The new waste program is doing well, in other words, said Mayor Lloyd Bertschi, although its yard waste collection could use improvement. “We’re hearing from a number of people that once every two weeks is not enough.” Council was thinking about making it once a week, and was looking to bring in full organics recycling in years ahead.

Morinville is also doing well when it came to water leaks, according to another council report.

Valcourt tabled a report on Morinville’s infrastructure leakage index at a council meeting earlier this month.

Water is a scarce resource, Valcourt said, and water leaks cost the town money. But most water pipes are underground, which makes leaks tough to detect. A cable crew recently stumbled upon a five-millimetre by 20-millimetre hole in a water main near town’s Mohawk gas station, for example — the hole had been there for years without anyone noticing it.

The town decided to audit its water use as part of its upcoming water conservation plan, Valcourt said.

“For the last 12 months we’ve been tracking literally every drop going in and out.”

The town found that it could account for about 633 million out of the 698 million litres of water it distributed, suggesting a loss rate of 9.1 per cent. At 57 cents per 1,000 litres, that lost water cost about $36,000.

That’s pretty good, Valcourt said — St. Albert has about a 10 per cent loss rate, and most communities report 40 per cent losses. Those losses could be due to inaccurate meters, poor records, theft or actual leaks.

Council was working on an education plan to reduce water use, Bertschi said, and was thinking about raising water standards in building permits. “Some of these old houses have 25-litre toilets when a 6-litre one would work fine,” he noted.

Off-roaders will pay a little more for spare tires starting next year in order to keep more rubber out of the landfill.

Alberta Environment announced earlier this month that it would add a recycling fee to industrial, forklift, Bobcat and ATV tires as of next April. The fee for medium truck tires (seen on buses) would also rise to $9 from $4.

Alberta started a pilot program for recycling industrial and off-road tires in 2006, said Betty Gray of Alberta Recycling, which kept about 22,000 tonnes of tires out of the landfill. Since the program has proved popular, the province has brought in a fee to cover the cost of recycling these tires to encourage more companies to accept them.

The new fee applies to all industrial and off-road tires. ATV tires will have a $4 fee added to them, while industrial tires will come with a $40 to $200 fee, depending on size. Fees on car and light truck tires would stay the same. “It’s not going to affect the average consumer,” Gray said.

ATV riders probably won’t notice much of a difference either, said Tony Viveiros, general manager of St. Albert’s Riverside Honda & Ski-Doo. A typical ATV tire starts at $120, so an extra $4 isn’t going to mean a lot. “Considering what that $4 will do environmentally, it’s worth it.”

The new fees kick in April 1, 2011. See www.albertarecycling.ca for details.

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