Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bob Dunning: Toss out variable garbage rates


From page A2 | July 09, 2013 |

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT … it certainly sounds well and good and fair to charge people using 95-gallon garbage cans more than we charge those using 65-gallon and 35-gallon cans, but for one thing: the cost to have DWR drive down our streets and empty our cans is the same no matter the size of the can … the only difference is in the slightly increased landfill costs to dispose of waste from the larger cans …

According to a city of Davis staff report several years ago, “Based on the weight of material received at the Yolo County Central Landfill, the true cost difference between disposal of garbage from a 35-gallon cart and a 65-gallon cart are at an estimated 83 cents and 76 cents, respectively, than that of a 95-gallon cart. Implementing a variable rate that requires additional administration of the 14,000-plus accounts will increase costs for the entire program and eclipse or eliminate the 83 cents and 76 cents price differential.” … in other words, there is no benefit to the plan …

The report also explains that “Experience shows that when customers are confronted with a full garbage container, they will put garbage in the recycling container,” which has a negative impact “on the quality of the recycled material.” … furthermore, “The results show that the amount of trash in both the 35- and 65-gallon carts is fundamentally the same.” … in other words, the use of a smaller can doesn’t seem to cause people to create less garbage …

The report also noted that “Many cities have reported increased contamination as a result of switching to variable rates.” … and, given that Davis is already the world leader in recycling, switching to variable rates at this point in the game is highly unlikely to suddenly cause the average Davisite to suddenly start recycling more … this plan should be tossed into a 95-gallon can and rolled to the curb on Garbage Night …

FLUORIDE FOR ALL … I’m not one of those who believes the government is going to deliver fluoride to our water supply using black helicopters by dark of night … in fact, although there are sharp differences of opinion on this — even among so-called “experts” — I believe fluoride applied properly in the correct dose helps to prevent tooth decay and is thus generally beneficial to one’s dental health … we use fluoridated toothpaste in our family and all of us, adults and kids alike, have been treated with fluoride …

Thus, I was pleased to read Sunday’s op-ed by Dr. Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine and public health at UC Davis who also chairs the Yolo County Health Council … after convincingly making his case for the benefits of fluoride, Dr. Wilkes concludes by saying “The benefits to the public are enormous, the costs to society are tiny, and the liberties for those opposed are preserved in that if they want fluoride-free water they can go and purchase it.” … or, on the flip side of that argument, given that the benefits are so enormous and the costs so tiny, those who wish to avail themselves of the wonders of fluoride can go and purchase it for themselves and leave everyone else out of what is essentially a personal decision about one’s health …

As for the handful of people in town who wish to have fluoride but can’t afford it, there are far cheaper ways to deliver it to them than the current costly and controversial plan to fluoridate the entire water supply, including what we use to water our lawns, wash the dishes, take a shower and flush the toilet …

SPEAKING OF DOSES … given that fluoride use will vary greatly from individual to individual if we add it to the municipal water supply, what’s missing in this debate is a clear statement from medical experts as to what is the proper “dose” of this substance … many Davisites don’t currently drink tap water and are unlikely to change that habit even when Sacramento River water is flowing through Davis faucets … thus, they won’t be getting any extra fluoride at all on a daily basis … some folks don’t drink water at all …

Others, especially those who work outdoors and train for triathlons every day, are likely to drink large amounts of water, some of it, perhaps, from Davis taps … yet nobody in authority is telling us if 8 ounces of fluoridated water is a proper daily dose or 12 ounces or maybe 64 ounces … do the very young need more fluoride or less fluoride than adults? … if we drink fluoridated water on a regular basis, should we continue to brush with fluoridated toothpaste? … should the kids keep munching those fluoride tablets that, incidentally, are available only by prescription? …

All we’ve heard so far is, “drink it, it’s good for you.” … a few more answers might be helpful …

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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