In the early 1990s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote new rules for sanitary landfills, making compliance much more strict. They asked the states to enforce these new regulations. The state of Kansas passed the requirements down to the counties. At that time, most counties had county-operated sanitary landfills, that simply would not meet the new, tougher requirements.
The state, through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, asked each county to draft and submit a plan for managing solid waste. Under the planning program, counties were allowed to make regional compacts, or Solid Waste Authorities, to share the intense, detailed work of writing the solid waste management plan.
The Lake Region Solid Waste Authority (LRSWA) is born
In 1995, six East-Central Kansas counties, Anderson, Coffey, Franklin, Linn, Miami and Osage, agreed to form a solid waste authority for joint planning. The governing document was called an Interlocal Agreement. It was signed by each county commissioner in each of the six counties, and then sent to the Kansas Attorney General for final approval.
The original document has been revised a few times as the LRSWA has taken shape and grown to meet the changing needs of its members. But the intent remains the same... to facilitate the three "R"s... Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
The LRSWA is governed by a board of directors made up of two voting members from each county. The day-to-day operations are overseen by the Regional Coordinator, a staff position.
The budget is adopted annually by the LRSWA board of directors and then sent on to each county commission for final approval. The operating budget comes from "dues" or assessments paid by each county.
Looking to the Future
Some of the old solid waste problems remain, but new solutions become available. The LRSWA continues to look for new opportunities to reduce the amount of waste going to transfer stations and landfills.
Recycling and household hazardous waste collections remain the key programs offered by the Lake Region counties. But in the future, member counties may offer more re-use opportunities such as community composting centers.