Public Works

Video: Waste & Recycling Workers Week

This is Waste and Recycling Workers Week! We offer our sincere thanks to the hard-working men and women who keep our neighborhoods and streets safe and clean. Your dedication and tireless work are valued and appreciated!

– Public Communications Office

 


Public works boosts our community’s quality of life

By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Manager

Most of us take for granted that our trash will be picked up on time, our drinking water will be clean, and our public facilities will be adequately maintained. But College Station’s public works infrastructure, facilities, and services wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated professionals of the Public Works Department.

Efficient and professional public works programs manage our streets, traffic operations, stormwater drainage, fleet maintenance, public building maintenance, recycling, and solid waste collection. These services are vital to the safety, health, and high quality of life we enjoy in our growing community.

This week marks the 60th annual National Public Works Week, which celebrates the thousands of men and women across the United States and Canada who provide and maintain the infrastructure and services known as public works.

This year’s theme is “The Rhythm of Public Works,” which makes us think about our community as a symphony of essential services, working in concert to create a great place to live. Every city has a rhythm, a heartbeat that reflects its essence and tempo of life.

National Accreditation

Did you know that College Station is the only city in Texas to be nationally accredited in both public works and water services? Administered by the American Public Works Association, the accreditation program recognizes agencies that go beyond the requirements of established industry practices.

The College Station Public Works Department consists of eight divisions — Facility Maintenance, Streets, Drainage and Irrigation Maintenance, Traffic Operations, Solid Waste/Recycling, Fleet Services, and Administration. Our employees deliver essential services and maintain the infrastructure that allows our community to grow and prosper.

About Public Works Week

Since 1960, the APWA has sponsored National Public Works Week as a way for its 30,000 members to educate the public on the importance of public works in their daily lives. The occasion is marked each year with scores of resolutions and proclamations from mayors, governors, and presidents.

As we observe National Public Works Week, we honor and thank the employees of our Public Works and Water Services departments for their professionalism, hard work, and the high level of dedicated service they provide to our community every day.

 

 


About the Blogger

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 33rd year with the City of College Station. He was named Solid Waste Manager of the Year in 2016 by the Texas Public Works Association.


 

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20 ways to celebrate the 50th Earth Day

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

In 1970, 20 million people mobilized to call for greater protections for our planet. The event became the world’s first Earth Day.

Earth Day has since become the largest secular observance in the world. More than 190 countries and a billion people celebrate it as a day to encourage positive changes in behavior that benefit our environment.

Since Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we offer these creative and innovative ways to do your part:

  1. Take a walk to identify native plant species in your area — or simply enjoy your surroundings.
  2. Craft a nature collage from items found on your walk.
  3. Compost your food waste.
  4. Avoid using herbicides or pesticides before rain events.
  5. Clean out your closet, but instead of throwing your old clothes away, donate them.
  6. Check out NASA’s Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary Toolkit.
  7. Calculate your carbon footprint.
  8. Research how to start a backyard garden and ways to support helpful insects and pollinators.
  9. When shopping, use reusable bags. However, some retailers are recommending the use of plastic bags until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.
  10. Identify the types of accepted recyclables in College Station.
  11. Learn how to dispose of household hazardous waste Our next collection event is Oct. 24.
  12. Follow the Brazos Valley WaterSmart network to use efficient watering techniques for your lawn.
  13. Join a virtual Earth Day
  14. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
  15. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  16. Construct a rainwater harvesting barrel for landscape irrigation.
  17. Repurpose jars and other containers as beverage glasses or small bowls.
  18. Serve a fun Earth Day-inspired dessert such as dirt pudding to teach your kids about the importance of soil.
  19. Plant a tree.
  20. Tag us with your Earth Day activities using the hashtag #BVEarthDay2020.

Happy Earth Day!

 


About the Blogger

Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city and her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Caroline previously held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences from A&M in 2012.


 

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Be sure to Scoop the Poop when walking your pet

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

With residents sheltered at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, many find welcome relief by walking their dogs and enjoying the spring sunshine. Unfortunately, reports of pet waste left in our streets, roadways, and parks have increased significantly.

One pile of pet waste might not seem like much, but more than 29,000 domestic pets live in College Station. Our furry friends generate hundreds of pounds of waste every day. If the waste isn’t disposed of properly (it takes a year to fully break down), storm runoff can wash it into local waterways and discharge it directly into creeks.

The contaminated runoff affects our water quality and creates genuine health risks as a source of E. coli and nutrient pollution. Fecal matter from dogs and other urban animals can also cause GiardiaParvoroundwormsSalmonella, and other viruses and parasites.

So what should you do when walking your pet? 

Carry a scooper and use the baggie as a glove. Scoop the poop, invert and seal the bag, then toss it in the trash. If you allow your animal to defecate on someone else’s property or in public areas without removing it, you’re breaking the law.

Be a responsible, courteous, and law-abiding pet owner — always Scoop the Poop.

 


About the Blogger

Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city and her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Caroline previously held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences from A&M in 2012.


 

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How you can help solid waste collections run smoothly

By Wally Urrutia, Solid Waste Manager 

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, the City of College Station’s Solid Waste Division continues to provide essential solid waste collection services to our residents.

Since Mayor Karl Mooney issued the shelter-in-place order last week, we’ve seen an increase in household garbage, recycling, and bulk waste. At the same time, we’ve temporarily reduced service days to one or two a week for our commercial business customers — mostly restaurants.

On average, each of our collection trucks collects waste from 1,300 homes a day. We ask for your patience and understanding as our solid waste workers do their best to take care of our community’s needs as safely and efficiently as we can.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Secure all household garbage bags in your bins. Don’t place loose items.
  • Place your residential carts at least three feet away from obstructions.
  • Don’t place household garbage out on your bulk day. It can create health risks for our workers.
  • Minimize your large bulk/brush items to minimize additional hours of work and help our crews get home to their families.

We also encourage you to download the College Station Curbside app to stay informed about solid waste and recycling collection.

For more information, go to cstx.gov or call the Solid Waste Division at 979-764-3690.

 


About the Blogger

Solid Waste Division Manager Wally Urrutia is in his 33rd year with the City of College Station. He was named Solid Waste Manager of the Year in 2016 by the Texas Public Works Association.


 

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How businesses and apartments can recycle, too

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

Just about everyone recognizes that recycling and appropriate sustainability habits are vital to our well-being as a community. That’s why the City of College Station promotes and implements relevant practices, including providing low-cost recycling services for as many of our residents as possible.

While our community loves the recycling collection services the city has in our single-family residential areas, we don’t currently offer these services to businesses and multi-family dwellings such as apartments.

But that doesn’t mean your business or apartment complex doesn’t have recycling options. You can still commission services from private recycling businesses that are franchised to collect here.

The goal of the city’s recycling program is to decrease the amount of waste that enters the landfill by diverting eligible materials for recycling. We recycle efficiently to keep contamination at a minimum. And not all waste is contaminated, despite what it may seem.

Recycling contamination refers to non-recyclable materials or garbage that ends up in the recycling system. Materials may be non-recyclable because of a lack of market value, the unavailability of adequate processing infrastructure, or something as simple as residual food particles – such as greasy pizza boxes.

For a recycling program to function properly, residents must take precautions to minimize contamination. Our Solid Waste Division recently conducted a yearlong feasibility study that identified a high rate of recycling contamination as one of our most significant challenges.

In most instances, tenants relocate recyclables from their apartment units to a complex-wide collection bin, which is typically placed next to a solid waste dumpster. Unfortunately, some tenants seem to think the recycling bin is just another place to put their garbage. That makes it significantly more difficult to identify the source of contamination or even illegal dumping practices at communal containers.

Our study found that centralized recycling collection at apartments leads to materials that are so highly contaminated that they can only be hauled to the landfill. Subsequently, door-to-door collections where the generating resident could be identified and informed would be the only effective means for a successful multi-family program. High resident turnover in multi-family complexes complicates the process even more.

We must overcome many formidable hurdles before we can provide city-wide recycling for apartments and other multi-family residences in an economical, efficient way. We are always striving to find better ways to encourage responsible sustainability practices and improve the valued services we provide.

 


About the Blogger

Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city and her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Caroline previously held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences from A&M in 2012.


 

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