EL CENTRO â€“ Robert Ferrante from the Los Angeles County Sanitation District presented an overview and future looking prospectus toward their Imperial County landfill and rail system that was built to transport L.A. trash down to the valley before the 2008 recession hit and caused a sharp decline in trash.
Ferrante explained that a 2005 UCLA study showed LA would run out of landfill by 2013. LA came to the Imperial Valley and signed contracts to operate the Mesquite Land Fill complete with a rail system to transport the waste.
Instead, a major recession brought LA growth to a standstill, and for the first time landfills began to compete for trash as they saw tonnage plummet.
Supervisor Michael Kelley asked how long into the future before the Mesquite Landfill would be used. The answer was not before 2020.
Supervisors Jack Terrazas, Ray Castillo and Michael Kelley all expressed their disappointment with the Los Angeles Sanitation District and how they had promised income and jobs when they signed on to dump their waste in the valley. All three supervisors strongly suggested LA needs to renegotiate to compensate the valley for lost promised income.
Tim Kelley, CEO of Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation, rose to speak of a better business alternative.
Kelley said that the Mesquite Regional Landfill rail system, an intermodal facility, is a significant and valuable infrastructure that needs to be utilized differently than just hauling trash at some future date to the Imperial Valley.
â€œThe Mexicali maquiladores can truck product across the border to the rail facility then move it out via rail. Farmers can haul alfalfa more efficiently to the coastal ports and even Central California. Already the Ocotillo Wind Project proved the concept in 2012 when they used the rail system to deliver and store their wind turbine components,â€ Kelley told the board.
Ferrante said they continue to give 15-20 tours per year for groups that include commerce representatives from Mexicali, local farming interests and other business interests.
Supervisor Terrazas said, â€œWe spent a lot of political will to bring LA trash to the valley. Not everybody was happy with that, but it was going to bring income to the county. I appreciate the different opportunities you are looking for at the Mesquite Landfill. I understand the yearly cost of maintenance you spend on the site. â€œ
Terrazas concluded with the question that was obvious, â€œBut these new opportunities, where do we fit in?â€