It was good to hear last week that the Waterford Township Board of Trustees voted to rejoin the North Oakland Household Hazardous Waste Consortium (NO-HAZ), after bowing out in 2009. With participation costs cut in half and township residents in need of a way to safely and responsibly dispose of their hazardous wastes, township officials agreed it was time to participate again. Now we’re hoping other former N0-HAZ members in the lakes area (Commerce, Wolverine Lake, White Lake, and Orchard Lake) and perhaps other communities will reconsider NO-HAZ membership.
The consortium, now made up of about 10 communities, was created in 2003 to provide residents with a way to dispose of household hazardous wastes like cleaners; paints; household batteries; automotive batteries; gasoline; motor oil; brake and transmission fluids; some televisions, computer equipment, and other consumer electronics; and many yard and garden and home improvement products.
Waterford officials never questioned the benefits of NO-HAZ; however, the cost became an issue. The township had previously paid about $48,000 a year to participate. Withering revenues and a need to use its available funding to pay for other priority services required the township to drop out of the consortium. After leaving, township officials soon began fielding calls from residents who wanted to dispose of paint and pesticides, for example, but didn’t know how or where to dispose of such wastes.
Due to changes made by the consortium to decrease costs without reducing services, the cost of participation is now much lower. Waterford Township’s estimated obligation for 2012 is $20,435, less than half of what it paid in the past.
There are three NO-HAZ collections scheduled this year, but another will most likely be held in August at the Oakland Community College Highland Lakes campus, following Waterford’s decision to rejoin the program.
Since it has been restructured and the costs to participate have been reduced, we’re hoping other communities in west Oakland give NO-HAZ another look.
We can’t blame communities for dropping out over the years, given the unprecedented financial challenges municipal governments have faced. Local governments have had to prioritize and learn to get by with a diminishing revenue stream, and NO-HAZ membership took a back seat to public safety, library, and parks and recreation services, among others.
Not every community will be able to afford NO-HAZ participation, and others — like West Bloomfield, Highland and Milford — periodically hold their own hazardous waste collection days. However, given the reduced cost, we’re hoping all lakes area communities at least consider membership and its expense as a worthwhile investment in the local environment and quality of life.
For more information on the NO-HAZ program, visit the website at www.oakgov.com/waste/nohaz.