By Cassie McClure
Las Cruces is growing, and with that growth comes a need for utility services at homes and businesses including natural gas, water, wastewater, and solid waste disposal. Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) aims to meet that need and is undertaking an examination of its solid waste routes to balance the daily waste pickup across the city.
Las Cruces Utilities anticipates the solid waste customer base will potentially increase by 25 percent during the next five years. This information is based on the current permits and plan reviews for master planned subdivisions and the number of residential lots expected.
Las Cruces Utilities Consultant, Easy Route, a subsidiary of Routeware, LCU’s on-board solid waste technology, is helping to analyze how different routes operate in detail. How many containers can be picked up per hour? Are some routes overly burdened in comparison with others? Are there times that are best for trucks to come service schools when they are back in session?
Currently, LCU services roughly 38,000 residential and 2,100 commercial containers, Monday through Friday. The drivers head in at 5:30 a.m., inspect their trucks, and begin collection by 6 a.m. There are currently nine residential routes and six commercial routes run daily. The range of containers picked up on a single residential route is between 616 to 1,552 containers.
The Routeware system installed on solid waste trucks gives GPS and speed data as well. This helps measure productive time for each route. Las Cruces Utilities has also incorporated tonnage data from the Amador Transfer Station each time a truck dumps the trash to give an idea of how much trash is collected in an area before the drivers must unload.
“Mondays are by far the busiest days for our drivers. The east mesa area is growing very fast and we are continually adding new service stops weekly. Not to mention it is the furthest area from the transfer station, where they unload the trash,” said Robin Lawrence, LCU deputy director Solid Waste. “Currently, we send helper routes to other drivers who may finish their routes earlier in order to assist those drivers in areas where there is growth. Upon evaluation of the routes, we may have to shift some of the neighborhoods to different days depending on our findings.”
“We hope to have new route designs in place by January 2021,” Lawrence added. “When routes change, residents, and business owners will be notified far in advance. We all are used to our trash day and it might take a while for people to remember a new day when they’ve been used to a certain one for years.”
Las Cruces Utilities can be reached at 575/528-3500 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
Jose Cereceres, LCU Solid Waste Heavy Equipment Operator, is one of the friendly faces that pick up the trash in our city. LCU is looking to balance the shifts of its drivers to allow for a growing city.
Note: This story was recently published in the Las Cruces Sun-News.