By Paul Gable
(Ed. Note – This is the third in a series of articles on the Horry County Solid Waste Authority and its waste stream disposal.)
Recent discussions about waste stream diversion at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority (HCSWA) have spurred some local officials to look into the process.
One example is Aynor mayor Keb Johnson, who is also serving as chairman of the League of Cities this year.
The League of Cities membership is composed of the mayors from the eight incorporated municipalities in Horry County. The League of Cities nominates three members to the HCSWA board and is kept apprised of policies and other decisions of the HCSWA.
Since taking over the chairmanship last month, Johnson has studied to become more knowledgeable about various methods of waste stream diversion and recycling.
Johnson started looking at HCSWA issues when Horry County Council passed its solid waste flow control ordinance in 2009.
“I have a contracting business in the western part of the county,” said Johnson. “It cost me money when the county forced me to bring C&D (construction and demolition) waste to the HCSWA landfill on Hwy 90 when there were closer and cheaper C&D landfills just across the county line.”
The C&D issue was resolved one year ago when Horry County Council removed C&D waste from the constraints of flow control.
However, Johnson remains interested in saving landfill space at the HCWSA as a citizen, mayor and chairman of the League of Cities.
“It’s an important issue,” Johnson said. “Our landfill is projected to be full in 2035 and we will have to find other ways to dispose of our waste. It’s like the old commercial that said ‘you pay now or you pay later’. We have to divert more waste now so that we can extend the remaining life of our landfill.”
Johnson said he believes the HCSWA proposal to have an independent firm study the Horry County waste stream is a good first step. Then, having the HCSWA issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) from companies interested in becoming involved with improved recycling and other types of waste stream diversion could be beneficial.
“I believe we can be ready for an RFP by the end of the year,” he said. “Then we can see what is out there and how professionals in the business may be able to help us save landfill space.”
For too long, the HCSWA was worried about its revenue stream rather than managing the solid waste stream for the long term benefit of the citizens of Horry County.
The HCSWA is registered as a non-profit public benefit corporation with the S.C. Secretary of State. It is illegal for the HCSWA to make a profit, but in actuality it did for many years, diverting the excess funds into various “restricted” and “non-restricted” accounts.
But, the end of the landfill is in sight and it is now necessary to use some of those excess funds for the benefit of the citizens of Horry County rather than the benefit of a few personal or agency agendas.