By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 5/29/20
You didn’t really think you were the only one tackling spring cleaning or a new home renovation during the stay-at-home orders, did you? On the streets you might have seen more overflowing trash bins or more piles of yard waste for the Green Grappler, and more assortments of big, old, and dusty things left for the regular Grappler.
Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) felt the impact of the clean-up and cleanout projects, especially those associates working with Solid Waste.
“Our Solid Waste staff show up every day, deal with the extra workload, incorporate sanitizing efforts in the trash trucks, work long days, all the while being concerned about their own health and safety just like everyone else,” said Robin Lawrence, LCU deputy director Solid Waste. “I want to give kudos to each and every one of them.”
The numbers give a clear picture of the staggering workload increase for LCU Solid Waste:
Green Grappler pickups in February totaled 772; in April, LCU had 1,658 pickups. That’s more than double the workload from the start of the stay-at-home orders.
Regular Grappler had 1,602 pickups in February; in April, pickups grew to 3,199. Another doubling of workload for the same number of drivers for Solid Waste routes.
Residential Solid Waste tonnage rose from 2,257 tons in February to 2,936 tons in April. That’s a 23% increase.
Commercial tonnage went down – no surprise, businesses were closed. But, LCU set out three emergency/temporary roll-off containers around town the last week in April, which were serviced (emptied) 21 times in six days, collecting more than 50 tons of trash.
With additional workload, some staff have gone way beyond their regularly assigned duties. “Supervisory Solid Waste staff now must ensure everybody has access to personal protective equipment (PPE), constantly update their teams, and on occasion jump on a Solid Waste route truck to go help staff pick up trash,” said Lawrence. “All the while, they’ve continued to do their best by providing support and encouragement in these trying times.”
LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: To deal with extra trash, LCU put out three emergency/temporary roll-off containers throughout town; solid waste staff serviced these extra locations 21 times in six days to make sure our streets and desert stayed clean.