On Tuesday, December 13, 2016, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved the final contracts necessary to move forward with the long-awaited Resource Recovery Project and the development of facilities that will process municipal solid waste (MSW), recyclables, and organic materials at the County owned and operated Tajiguas Landfill.
Public Works Director Scott McGolpin said, "This project will give us real greenhouse gas reductions on a massive scale that will be the equivalent of taking more than 22,000 passenger vehicles off of the road annually. There is no other project we have planned that will make as big an impact, and is crucial to achieving the goals of the climate action plans for the region."
The project will process an estimated 155,000 tons of MSW and 35,000 tons of recyclables each year, increasing the County's recycling rate to over 85% and will result in an estimated reduction of 110,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.
The Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facility will process organic materials, including food, wet paper, and yard trimmings into compost and soil amendment products. It will provide the infrastructure necessary to process source separated materials, giving the community the flexibility to modify its collection systems in the future. In addition, the project will allow biogas, including methane and carbon dioxide, to be converted into up to one megawatt of electricity that will be sold on the grid.
Mr. McGolpin noted, "Developing this project has been a very inclusive process that has included hundreds of stakeholders and has led us to what I believe is the best way to manage our waste in a financially and environmentally responsible way."
Since 2009, the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang, and Buellton have been collaborating with the County on this project, which will serve 210,000 area residents and businesses and help each local community meet their recycling goals as well as comply with the state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction requirements. To address local needs, over 140 public presentations and public hearings have been held to receive input and shape the project.
In July 2016, the Board of Supervisors certified the Environmental Impact Report and approved the creation of a public-private partnership with MSB Investors, LLC, of San Luis Obispo. MSB will design, permit, and construct the facility. The company has assembled a team of subcontractors with extensive experience in their respective fields, including Diani Building of Santa Maria, the primary construction contractor, and MarBorg Industries of Santa Barbara to operate the MRF. The project will provide 40 construction jobs and 56 permanent jobs related to facility operations.
On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors approved the agreements to provide services to the various cities and also authorized financing for the facility. The $110.5 million project will be financed by a public bond backed by waste flow guarantees between the County and the participating cities. The project will ultimately be funded by residents and businesses through their monthly trash collection bills.
The project will begin construction in March 2017 and is scheduled to be completed and operational in early 2019.