County instructs on storm debris disposal

Pierce County residents are advised not to place tree branches and other windstorm debris at the curb, because it won’t be picked up by garbage haulers and could be a safety hazard. Rather, storm debris should be self-hauled to the county landfill or one of the county’s solid waste transfer stations.

“Piles of debris at the curb can be a safety hazard to motorists and pedestrians. In the event of a rainstorm, debris brought to the curb could aggravate flooding problems,” said Steve Wamback, the county’s solid waste administrator.

Residents of Pierce County, excluding Tacoma and Ruston, are encouraged to take tree branches and other debris from last weekend’s windstorm to the Hidden Valley landfill on South Hill or the Anderson Island, Key Center, Prairie Ridge or Purdy transfer stations. The first cubic yard is free and additional volume is accepted at the rate of $3.50 per one-half cubic yard. Tacoma and Ruston residents use the City of Tacoma landfill/transfer station on South Mullen Street.

Some residents have inquired whether the county would be offering a curbside debris pickup program similar to those conducted twice during the 1990s, including after the Inauguration Day storm Jan. 20, 1993.

That isn’t anticipated. It would be possible only if a presidential disaster declaration were to be issued for the Feb. 17-18 storm. Under a presidential declaration, cleanup costs would be paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“A presidential declaration isn’t likely because the storm was localized and damage to public facilities was minimal,” said Steve Bailey, Pierce County’s emergency management director. “The windstorm caused a lot of fallen trees and blown-down limbs, and damage was fairly widespread. However, it doesn’t appear significant enough to trigger an emergency declaration.”

Following the Inauguration Day storm, a presidential declaration was issued and the county conducted a 24-day debris clean up program that was free to citizens. Citizens either hauled their storm debris to one of four collection sites or placed it along county roads for pickup by county crews. Roadside collection brought in 70,000 cubic yards of debris, and citizens took a total of 60,000 cubic yards to the collection locations. Damage to public facilities exceeded $4 million.

The cleanup operation involved 75 percent of the Road Maintenance Division’s work force.

Pierce County garbage haulers offer curbside yardwaste collection in urban incorporated and unincorporated areas for single-family households. The haulers provide 95-gallon wheeled carts for collection every other week. In most communities the monthly fee for this service is less than $6.

Transfer station locations and additional storm debris disposal information is available at .