Thursday, July 31, 2008

Compact development versus high flow users

We know compact development is sustainable versus the resource intensive development we have today that has resulted in peak everything. When we look at high flow users what models can we demonstrate. Garbage and water and good places to start.

There are four houses on my east west running considerably sloped street-block. On the south side are me and an elderly neighbor. Four in our household one in hers. We both put out twenty gallon garbage cans that are mostly empty. Today was only garbage day. Next week on an alternating schedule is recycling day.

Across the street on the north side there are two houses also. The westerly house has six, four small children and the parents, and use the 32 gallon trash can. The easterly house has two residents both retired and use a 20 gallon trash can.

The trash company sends out a huge biodiesel powered garbage truck. The truck has powered arms shaped like a fork which can pick up and empty a 32 gallon can. The two operators know the street and pick up the trash from the upslope or westerly side. They split the job. One guy has a 64 gallon can on wheels which he walks down the hill. He picks up the two 20 gallons and toss them into his 64 then crosses the street and gets the 20 gallon of the retires. His 64 gallon can is still not full so he continues onto the next block.

The other operator runs the truck and picks up the 32 gallon trash can across the streets. After he unloads the can he gets back in the truck and drives off after his partner. I assume they empty the walking can out after five or six houses.

I suppose in our lower rates for 20 gallon or ten gallon cans its possible to see a benefit from the efficiencies that a walking infrastructure offers the garbage company. However we don't live in a compact development for obvious reasons- one in four residents requires a big massive truck. That truck requires a big massive road which requires resurfacing every ten years and a big massive public works department. And as you add up the associated needs in water and sewer and power and food and its eventual demise in the garbage truck and sewer its possible to see that the infrastructure needs for the few large "wealthy" high flow users determine the public cost amortized over everyone. Charging for garbage by weight and sewer by volume and adjusting the costs for the increased infrastructure can reduce consumption.

Requirements for compact developments and great neighborhoods could put surcharges to ensure compliance with a compact infrastructure designed on sustainable costs.

Next week I'll take a video and show it at the city council.

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