Lancaster county solid waste management authority: managing opportunity while maintaining its core mission

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) (PA) was created by Lancaster County in 1987. The state mandated that its basic responsibility was to fulfill the role of solid waste management, required of county government. Community leaders at the time developed a countywide plan that focused on establishing an integrated system, with the guiding principles of minimizing landfill consumption and maintaining public ownership of the disposal facilities. Additionally, the plan directed LCSWMA to maintain self-sufficiency, which meant that as the county population and corresponding waste stream grew, the organization would expand and upgrade its facilities to accommodate the additional waste. Finally, the plan determined that LCSWMA would institute a user-fee based system rather than levying taxes. The organization would be solely responsible for all operational costs and any debt of the system. Operating in the sixth largest county in Pennsylvania, LCSWMA serves a population of approximately 500,000. The organization’s typical budget is approximately $55 million per year. During 2011, LCSWMA employed 76 full-time staff and will manage approximately 600,000 tons of waste.

LCSWMA’s major assets include: 1) a 2,200 tons per day transfer station, which is part of a larger complex that also houses its household hazardous waste facility and corporate offices; 2) a 2,200 tons per day landfill, located along the Susquehanna River, which incorporates a 3.2MW landfill gas plant (LCSWMA and PPL partnership); and 3) a 1,200 tons per day waste-toenergy facility, which is owned by LCSWMA and operated by Covanta Energy. Although the county government appoints LCSWMA’s board of directors, the organization operates as an independent entity. “We own the facilities, we issue the debt, we get our own credit rating and we operate as a pure enterprise funded system,” says James Warner, LCSWMA’s CEO.

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