No interest from 5 regional counties to update solid waste plans

All counties in Michigan are required by law to have a non-hazardous solid waste management plan. Whether or not those plans need to be updated is determined by the state Department of Environmental Quality, according to Christina Miller.

Miller, DEQ solid waste planning, reporting and surcharge co-ordinator in Lansing, said counties may make amendments to their plans if they choose to, but DEQ makes the determination of the need for updates.

“It’s been our interpretation of the statute that the update has to be initiated by the DEQ director,” she said. “Amendments can be initiated at any time.”

When the DEQ director determines a particular county’s waste management plan needs to be updated, Miller said a county government will be asked to do it. If county government is unable to do an update, municipalities will be asked to do one. Lastly, a regional planning organization will be asked to do an update.

“If nobody files a plan to update, the DEQ will do it,” she said.

Miller said the DEQ created the plans for Baraga, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties.

According to the DEQ website, amendments to waste management plans must be made by a 14-member solid waste management plan committee. For a committee: four shall represent the solid waste management industry, two shall represent environmental interest groups, one shall represent county government, one shall represent city government, one shall represent township government, one shall represent the regional solid waste planning agency, one shall represent industrial waste generators and three shall represent the general public.

According to the DEQ website, the solid waste policy, which was updated in 2007, states in part, “The policy uses the three principles of sustainability: economic vitality, ecological integrity and improved quality of life to guide solid waste management decisions. The Solid Waste Policy embodies the consensus agreement of stakeholders on the Solid Waste Policy Advisory Committee, a group made up of representatives from local governments, the environmental community and the solid waste and recycling industries. The Solid Waste Policy encourages a deliberate and inclusive solid waste management decision-making process and recommends goals.”

According to Baraga County Clerk Wendy Goodreau, Baraga County’s waste management plan was last updated in 2001. No amendments to the plan are scheduled.

“There’s been no discussion,” she said.

Houghton County’s most recent solid waste management plan was also approved in 2001.

Keweenaw County’s most recent plan was approved in 2002. Ontonagon’s plan was approved in 2013.

Jerry Wuorenmaa, executive director of the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region in Houghton, said WUPPDR was involved with the creation of the Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties solid waste management plans, but neither county has asked WUPPDR to work with them on any amendments to the plans.


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