Wapello County solid waste commission receives EMS designation

The Ottumwa Wapello County Waste Commission always works to reduce environmental risks and improve environmental performance, but now they're doing so with EMS, or Environmental Management System, designation.

The commission was designated by the Environmental Protection Commission in March and is now in the early stages of the program. Ottumwa Wapello will get specialized training and grant money to look at what programs they have in place, what is working and what needs to be changed.

The city has six areas of focus; yard waste management, household hazardous collection, water quality improvement, greenhouse gas reduction, recycling services and environmental education. Jody Gates, Director of Health, Inspections and Solid Waste, said the process will be ongoing, with continuous reports on the project's successes and failures.

"So you're continually moving a project forward and you're measuring its results and determining whether you've got beneficial results or not and then making adjustments to the plan and continuing to move forward," Gates said.

Gates said the Waste Commission already has several projects in place that minimize operations' impact to the environment, but doesn't necessarily encourage more recycling or reduce the amount of garbage we're taking to a landfill.

Some ideas already in mind include starting up a compost bin project and introducing larger recycling bins, perhaps with lids, to residents. The commission will monitor those ideas and see if they contribute to the overall goal of reducing risks and improving performance.

Gates said she hopes to present an initial report to the Waste Commission in May, then the entire process of projects and research will take up to a year. Hopefully after that time, Ottumwa-Wapello can apply for Tier Two, and continue changes and improvements.