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Site Plan.
Waste deposition strategy landfills.
Study of Deposition linear waste system.
Study of Deposition current linear waste system overview.
Study of Deposition waste stream profile.
Analysis divert.
An alternative framework waste cycle sequence.



Wilbur + Waste: Challenging Trends in Waste Management
Jennifer Rueda, Student ASLA
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Pomona, California
Faculty Advisors: Edward Fonda; Susan Mulley; Andrew Wilcox

"A small project with big ideas! Very inventive and relevant to the economy. The waste stream is a significant issue today. The analysis and graphics are excellent. The content is incredibly compelling and will get people excited about what we do with waste."

— 2008 Student Awards Jury Comments

Project Statement:

This project illustrates how landscape architecture can analyze landscape patterns to develop new waste management systems designed to improve ecological and economic function in small communities. The isolated desert towns of Shoshone + Tecopa, CA, are re-designed to become waste independent by incorporating alternative processes that utilize natural systems to divert waste from landfills. “Wilbur + Waste” demonstrates how small scale designs can be applied to major global issues.

Project Narrative: 

Inyo County is located in Southern California along the Nevada border, and is home to 17,000 people. In one day the county generates over 77,000 pounds of waste, which is served by four active landfills. Despite these facilities, Inyo County must export 6% of its waste. This is mainly due to the fact that half of the county’s 10,000 square miles is dedicated to Death Valley National Park. This landmass divides the county into a northwest region, with 99% of the population in towns like Bishop, Lone Pine and Independence, and a southeast region, with the remaining 1% of the population dispersed in a few small towns, including Shoshone and Tecopa. With the southeast region’s geographical isolation, these towns do not utilize Inyo County landfills, and instead make use of landfills that are located outside the county and state borders.

Currently, Shoshone and Tecopa purchase waste hauling services, and their waste is transported thirty miles northeast to Pahrump, Nevada. However, this arrangement may soon expire. According to the 2007/2008 Inyo County Budget, in order to help fund the costs of the northwest county landfills, the Inyo County Waste Management Board decided to cut off waste hauling services to southeast Inyo County. With this budget cut in place, residents of southeast Inyo County, from towns like Shoshone and Tecopa, will be expected to individually export their own waste thirty miles to Pahrump on a regular basis. Waste hauling services have since been reinstated for the current year, however these services are not guaranteed for the future.

The environmental, social and economical implications of this budget threat are paramount. This situation will cause major problems for the fragile desert ecosystem, specifically since there are pre-existing issues of illegal dumping in the area. The integrity of the desert will be challenged and destroyed if illegal dumping becomes a popular method of waste management. The impacts on this landscape will have large negative impacts on tourism in the area, and create a degraded community. To preserve the unique desert ecosystem and tourist community in Shoshone and Tecopa, it is essential that sound waste management practices are engaged.

Shoshone and Tecopa are small tourist havens in the otherwise abandoned desert. Local attractions include Tecopa Hot Springs and the China Date Ranch. Regional attractions include Dumont Dunes and Death Valley National Park. The nearest town is Pahrump, Las Vegas is approximately 60 miles east and Baker, Ca is approximately 50 miles south. Shoshone is home to 52 people, mainly retirees. Facilities in the two towns include a gas station, a convenience store, a café, a coffee shop, a motel, a high school, a local conservancy, a health center, a museum, and a campground. These places are utilized by commuters from Pahrump, and students come from all over the desert. Tecopa is home to 99 people, and has many of the same facilities, although it has no conservancy but it has a elementary school. The dynamics of these two cities are very similar, yet there are a few subtle differences. Shoshone is much more concentrated than Tecopa, and exists on the main highway. Many travelers and truckers pass through and often stop to take a break in their drive through the desert. Gasoline is pumped, toilets are flushed and snacks or meals are consumed. Some of these travelers will extend their stay and enjoy the mineral pool, or hike around the Amargosa River. On the other hand, the turnoff for Tecopa is on the way to Shoshone, which automatically gives Tecopa a bit more of a secluded atmosphere. Part of the commercial side of town is situated above Grimshaw Lake, a salt covered basin and a geologic treasure. The other portion of the town is residential, along the road out to China Date Ranch, which is another five miles down the desert road and into a canyon. The tourists who head to Tecopa are intent on visiting the mineral hot springs, where naturally heated waters reach temperatures of over 100 degrees. Another main interest is the China Date Ranch, where a family run company has been growing date palms with the aid of an artesian well for over eighty years. Date shakes and other baked date goodies are the perfect treat after a trek on one of their numerous trails.

The first step to designing a new waste management program is to understand the current waste patterns in the communities of Shoshone + Tecopa. Disposal bins are located around the community for waste collection. There is no effort to divert any waste, and recycling is not even offered. The collected waste is picked up by Pahrump Valley Disposal, and transported thirty miles to a landfill in Pahrump, Nevada. In one day, with only the residents considered, this area creates 750 pounds of waste. The waste hauling contract with Pahrump Valley Disposal for one year of service costs almost $100,000. This waste hauling contract is available for this year, but these services are not guaranteed for the future.

By reviewing the waste profile of Inyo County, one can speculate that the waste profile for Shoshone and Tecopa is similar. The waste stream reflects the land use of an area, and in Inyo County the towns are highly residential with some light commercial, institutional, and municipal. Upon examination of the waste stream profile, it is notable that 75% of the generated wastes exported to the landfill are reusable materials. Recyclable materials account for 50% of the waste stream, while organic materials account for 39%. These are valuable resources and nutrients that should continue to circulate and should avoid contact with landfills completely.

DESIGN SOLUTION: AN ALTERNATIVE FRAMEWORK, a regenerative waste cycle system
The separation of waste materials is an immediate concern, as is the development of a site that can be used to implement systems to divert the top three waste categories from the waste stream. Organic materials can be composted in the community, while recyclables can be accumulated and then later transported to a recycling center in Pahrump. The remaining waste can be filtered using feeder pigs to reduce its volume. The final waste products can be dumped locally in pyrite exposed mine areas. By implementing this system, trips to Pahrump could be significantly reduced, and waste will create a marketable product that will fuel a new local economy.

With the understanding of the current waste patterns in Shoshone + Tecopa, the patterns can be altered to develop a system where we reconstitute waste into resources that can be utilized by the local community. Materials enter one of three diversion systems where they are reconstituted into another material, or are otherwise reduced in volume. Source-separated waste is key to the successful implementation of the diversion systems. Based on the waste profile, an alternative framework breaks the waste stream into four categories:

Green Waste : leaves+grass+stalks+stumps+vines+weeds+straw+branches+hay+manure+floral arrangements
Food Waste : coffee grounds+egg shells+nutshells+fruits+vegetables+pizza crust+rice+pasta+cake+biscuits
Trash : dairy products+fish+poultry+meat+furniture+shoes+clothing+carpet+ceramics+drink cartons+food wrappers
Recyclables : plastic bottles+glass bottles+jars+cans+paper+newspaper+magazines+cardboard+food packages

There are four steps to the Alternative Framework waste cycle. First, Inyo County will provide Shoshone and Tecopa with bins and biodegradable bags for source separated waste collection. Both at the residential scale and community scale, the towns will be responsible for separating waste into four categories, recyclables, trash, food waste, and green waste. Second, the waste is transported to Desert Diversion, a site strategically placed in between
Shoshone + Tecopa provides to opportunity to address waste management issues at the source. Third, the sorted waste materials are incorporated into one of three different diversion systems. Food waste and green wastes are utilized in the decompose system. Non-compostable foods and trash are utilized in the root system, and recyclables are utilized in the store system. In the fourth and final step, resources and remaining wastes are collected and prepared for distribution back into the community.

The decompose system reconstitutes green waste and food waste into compost, a highly beneficial soil amendment, and is available for use in small scale community agriculture to grow local food. The food and green waste materials are placed in elongated piles, or windrows, and then easily maintained by local staff. Multiple forms of bacteria work together under specific environmental conditions to transform waste materials into compost. To sustain microbial activity to ensure complete decomposition, manual turning of the pile keeps oxygen circulating and collected pool water runoff is utilized to maintain proper moisture levels. Runoff water from the man made mineral pools can be utilized in the compost process, and the piles will be aerated by manual turning. Mature compost is available to local residents and businesses, as well as and tourists.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, compost has numerous benefits including the ability to regenerate poor soil; suppress plant diseases and pests, divert materials from landfills, (saving fuel costs and landfill space); reduce the need for water, fertilizers, potting soil, and pesticides; promotes higher yield of agricultural crops; and facilitate reforestation, wetland restoration, and habitat revitalization.

The root system allows the resident pigs to root through trash, and further reduce the volume of waste. To stay cool, the pigs rest under shade structures constructed of local materials, date palm trunks, fitted with misters, which utilize pool water runoff. Pig manure is collected and contributes a valuable source of nitrogen to the composting system. Resulting offspring becomes a local food source, and remaining trash is dumped in old local abandoned mines, serving as a cap to exposed pyrite, which when exposed to the elements, causes acid mine runoff.

Pigs are the best choice for this situation because pigs are hygienic animals, maintaining separate areas for eating, sleeping, and defecation; pigs can adapt to the desert environment with some small considerations; pigs can eat a wider amount of materials than a compost pile or worms; pigs will not tear up the landscape as other animals would; and pigs will serve as a new local food source.

The store system allows recyclable materials to be stored on site, and only travel to the Pahrump Valley Disposal recycling centers in quarterly shipments, or upon reaching capacity.

The store system is the most economical and logical choice for the Shoshone + Tecopa communities. Although recyclable materials make up a significant portion of the waste stream, it is still reasonable to export these materials to established recycling centers in Pahrump. The combined volume of recyclable materials is 50% of the waste stream, but this is a combination of five materials, including paper, plastic, metal, cardboard, and glass. When separated into individual materials, the volume of each is much smaller. The investment to introduce a local recycling facility, including the costs and energy, to accommodate the multiple types of recyclable material is ineffective at this small scale, especially with such a relatively small volume of material.

Economically, the alternative framework has substantial impacts for the communities of Shoshone + Tecopa. The alternative framework introduces the opportunity for local food production. Generating a majority of the community’s food supply will promote self sufficiency. In addition, food production will stimulate a new local economy based on community agriculture. The Shoshone + Tecopa community can grow their own food, which will reduce their dependence on other markets and imports, as well as promote self sufficiency and food security. In this new economy, revenues generated in the community will remain in the community, instead of stimulating other communities.

The establishment of a community garden will strengthen the sense of community within Shoshone + Tecopa. The garden becomes an outdoor classroom and a hands on learning environment for students, where they can learn about science, agriculture, and nutrition. Over time, students can watch food mature from seed to their lunch plate. The garden is a local source of fresh produce, and will contribute to balanced diets and improved nutrition within the community. In addition, the alternative framework increases knowledge of science and technology of small scale community supported agriculture provides opportunity for healthy exercise and/or a hobby improves self sufficiency and increases tourist interest.

The alternative framework has numerous and far reaching environmental impacts. The program’s greatest strength is its ability to handle waste on site, which immediately shifts the Shoshone + Tecopa community status from 100 % dependent on foreign markets to substantially self sufficient. In addition, the program reduces volume of exported waste, conserves limited resources, reduces cost of waste management programs, reduces transportation costs involving imports and exports, preserves the fragile desert ecosystem, reduces dependence on landfills, extends the life of existing landfills, and reduces imports of food materials. The program is a logical, cost effective, and beneficial solution to the Inyo County Waste Management Budget situation.

LEADING THE WAY FOR THE FUTURE Small scale yet significant impacts
Small scale designs can be applied to major global issues. The redesign of waste management systems through careful consideration of local landscape factors has the potential to change the way our society perceives waste, and spark a massive overhaul of waste management programs in the United States. According to the EPA in 2006, the U.S. produced more than 251 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) which is approximately 4.6 pounds of waste per person per day. In 1960 this statistic was approximately 2.7 pounds of waste per person per day. In this forty year time span, the amount of waste generated by our country has nearly doubled, and the trend is only going to get worse with the expected population of the US to reach 419.9 million in 2050. If the 2006 waste rate is applied, in 2050, the US would generate 2,100,000,000 pounds of waste.

The Alternative Framework is a small scale study with significant impacts illustrating how landscape architecture can analyze systems and data to develop effective and sustainable solutions for waste management programs. This program can be easily manipulated to accommodate a broad range of scales, from the county, state, or even the national level, and provide urban areas with strategies to become self sufficient and a leader in waste management revolution.

Landfills reinforce our society’s obsession with inefficient, linear systems, as opposed to regenerative cyclical systems, like the Alternative Framework. An Alternative Framework diverts over 80% of the Shoshone + Tecopa community’s waste stream from the landfill. Waste material is reconstituted into new materials the community can utilize, which reduces landfill dependence, preserves resources and the natural environment, strengthens the sense of community, and fuels a new local economy. Waste diversion through recycling, composting, pig feeder systems, and selected dumping in appropriate areas, provides the communities of Shoshone + Tecopa the opportunity to become waste independent and ensure the preservation of the desert environment.


Desert Division.
Decompose Diversion System
Root Diversion System.
Store Diversion System.
Economic Impact.
Environmental Impact.
Social Impact.
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