South Shore plans to compost instead of burning garbage |

South Shore plans to compost instead of burning garbage

The days of burning water-logged sludge and organic garbage that could be recycled are coming to an end.

South Tahoe Refuse and South Tahoe Public Utility District plan to install high-tech dryers that will lighten the weight of waste they want to truck to the Carson Valley for composting.

The district has already started construction of a building to house equipment that will better dry sludge, the product of wastewater. The sludge dryer, called a centrifuge, is expected to be operating by mid-October, said Dennis Cocking, spokesman at the district.

The dryer will allow the lighter-weight, dewatered sludge to be trucked from the Lake Tahoe Basin rather than having the district burn it as it does today. An access road from the sludge dryer building to Al Tahoe Boulevard, which is part of the $7.2 million project, is already in place.

“As soon as we go live with that operation, we’ll shut down the furnace and hopefully never use it again,” Cocking said.

South Tahoe Refuse’s drying days are not as close as those of the district, but they’re still coming. The refuse company is in the preliminary stages of planning to construct a 27,000-square-foot building. It would house German recycling technology that enables more efficient recycling of pine needles, wood, mixed paper and other organic material.

The large building would house concrete cauldrons with lids that bake the organic material. The baking makes the material lighter and easier to transport, said Jeanne Lear, human resource manager at South Tahoe Refuse.

The German dryers cost about $2 million, while the entire project is estimated to cost about $18 million. The new facility, which could be constructed by 2004, would mean rate increases for customers, Lear said. El Dorado County has already committed $1 million to the project and has promised to look for other funds to offset the cost.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at

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