The first day of the new year is the deadline for rural communities to meet EPA mandates for waste management.

The Environmental Protection Agency initially set Oct. 1 as the deadline for all communities to conform to stringent regulations at landfills, which forced many communities to abandon their dumps and opt for a countywide landfill. Because so many were unable to meet the deadline, the agency extended it to Saturday, Jan. 1.The new regulations apply to landfills that receive less than 20 tons of waste material per day. Sweeping changes in landfill regulations require extensive design, operation and monitoring features, said Brian Bremner, Garfield County engineer.

"The extension, although welcome, will have little effect on the overall solid-waste management in the county," Bremner said. "Some communities have either closed or `bulldozed' their pre-existing landfills and must now adhere to the new landfill site" in the John's Valley area, some distance from all of the communities.

Escalante and Boulder delayed waste-disposal services until Jan. 1, Bremner said.

The engineer said county residents can dispose of small appliances and construction materials in green Dumpsters, providing the material is less than 3 feet long.

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Community officials have been instructed to establish permitted local land areas for disposal of dead animals, tree limbs and grass cuttings, but some Garfield County communities are lagging, Bremner reported.

Car bodies must be stored locally and will be hauled to the landfill by the county at a later date.

Fencing at the landfill will help prevent plastic bags and debris from blowing away, which has happened in the past. Residents are urged to tie everything in plastic bags, using at least two knots.

Bremner said all types of recycling may eventually be implemented in each community. Meanwhile, the county will purchase another dump truck by spring.

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