As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, central Maine municipalities have taken many measures to reduce the number of people coming into contact with each other. At Augusta’s Hatch Hill landfill, which takes rubbish and other materials from city residents as well as from several surrounding towns, the city is hoping to entice people to make fewer trips with more garbage by instituting a flat fee for residents using the facility. The cost is $10 per trip per car and $15 per trip for pickup trucks or cars with trailers — whether people bring one bag or a full vehicle load.

Jon Chalmers, solid waste director for the city of Augusta, said the idea is to encourage residents to hold onto their rubbish longer until they have multiple bags, thus reducing the amount of contact between the public and employees who work at Hatch Hill’s scale house. The scale house workers usually have to interact with anyone coming into the facility, to find out what and how much materials they’re bringing in and to collect payment.

About 150 people a day come to use the facility. Large and commercial loads will still be weighed on the scales and charged by the pound, as has been the practice in the past.

Hatch Hill is also taking credit or debit cards only — no cash — to also limit contact between the public and employees. It also has altered its operating days, and is only open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Single-sort recycling bins formerly at Hatch Hill and the Public Works Department are closed to the public, also in response to concerns use of them could increase exposure of employees and the public to the virus. Residents may still take scrap iron and wood debris to Hatch Hill to be recycled, Chalmers said.

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Author: Keith Edwards and Sam Shepherd, Kennebec Journal,
Photo: Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal,