Some intro thoughts on wastes:

When I was a boy the town dump was up on the mountain side, in the woods, right on the edge of a stream with a high gradient, that fed down into a more populated glacial valley with good glacial alluvium and aquifers in it. A trip to the dump was always exciting. There was some guy in a small plywood shed structure that looked like it was either from the dump or about to join it. I think my father had to pay him two bucks to be able to dump material. It wasn't uncommon that some part of the dump had caught on fire and was still smoldering. Some people liked to visit the dump to take target practice at the good sized rats. Others would scavenge for lawn mowers or the like, and would attempt to fix it at the dump site. If the discard looked like they could revive it that particular dump contribution would have to wait awhile before it would eventually join its brethren. Perhaps this was not the best way to deal with the waste at the time, but not many people were really thinking about it.

A different approach: I lived in Oslo, Norway, for the year of 1988. You paid for your weekly garbage removal on a per garbage can basis. If you overfilled your garbage can the collectors just left it there. This provided distinct incentive to reduce your garbage production (at least at home).

The waste industry in the U.S. is huge and can be lucrative, a multi-billion dollar venture per year.


Reading for this week: Dredging to Keep New York-New Jersey Harbor Alive by Meg Stewart in The Earth Around Us, AGI. Read this carefully. We have talked about linked energy solutions. Here is a good example of linked problems. Understanding linkages is key to environmental endeavors.


Journal exercise: This weeks exercise will take a little data gathering. The goal is to make some estimate of how much waste you produce in a week. When you take out the garbage, if you have a scale, weigh it. If you don't have a scale compare it to something of known weight (e.g. a 5 pound sack of potatoes) and estimate the weight. You should come up with an estimate of how much garbage you have produced in a day or weeks time. In addition, count how many times you flush the toilet per day. If you use any cleansers or other 'chemical' products that end up in the garbage or going down the drain read the label and make a list of active ingredients. Also, make an estimate of how much material you recycle in the weeks time. If they started to charge for garbage pick up by the pound, and for sewage by the gallon, what could you do to reduce the amount of waste you produce, and by how much do you think you could reduce it, and how would you accomplish this?


What are measures of water quality?


Methods of waste management?

Approaches taken:

It of course depends on the type of waste:


Where does your garbage go and what happens to it there?

Of the above options we will focus on sanitary landfills.

An exercise in estimating how much domestic garbage is produced in the Omaha metropolitan area in units of tons per day. Take the weekly weight in pounds of garbage you put out on the curb. Divide it by the number of people in your house/apartment. Divide it by seven. Now you have an estimate of the daily per capita domestic garbage production. Now multiply by the number of people in the Omaha metro area, and and then divide by 2000. Now you have the daily domestic garbage production in tons! What makes sure this is an underestimate of the total amount of garbage produced?

Top 6 reasons people don't want to live next to a landfill?

Other related environmental concerns/considerations:

Landfill design and siting considerations:

The basic idea is to triple bag it, or more, and collect and control what does escape.


Hazardous waste management:

What is hazardous waste?

Overseen by SARA legislation - will discuss later.

Approaches taken:


Where does your sewage go, and what happens to it there?

Bioremediation is the word of the day here. Bioremediation is very powerful tool. It is one way natural systems have capacity to recycle certain levels of organic waste.

Missouri River Waste Water Treatment Plant site.

UNL web document - Sewage Sludge Utilization for Crop Production Municipal biosolids can provide nutrients for crop growth and improve soil productivity. A worksheet and tables address pollutant levels and how to calculate an application rate for crop production. Charles S. Wortmann, Nutrient Management Specialist, Darren L. Binder, Research Specialist, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture .


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