United States
                         Environmental Protection
                         Solid Waste .       :
                         and Emergency Response
          December 1997
 Partnerships in Solid Waste

          High capital costs for solid waste projects, such as constructing
          landfills and purchasing equipment, along with operating and
          maintenance costs, present serious obstacles for many tribal
communities. In addition, the small size and remoteness of many tribal
communities, as well as insufficient access to training and technical support
programs, hinder the efforts of many tribes to tackle solid waste management
.issues.  ••':•."; .•"'•'.  '"'-:'.-    ":.  ' •
To overcome these barriers, many tribes partner with states, local
governments, and other tribes to open lines of communication and share
resources. These partnerships help tribes supplement and combine resources
to establish municipal solid waste (MSW) management projects that might
otherwise be too costly for a single tribe. For example, a tribe can share MSW
equipment, such as collection trucks, with other tribes or local communities
in order to reduce costs. Partnerships also-can provide tribal environmental
personnel with wider access to technical assistance, training programs, and   '
financial support mechanisms. By working together, tribes and other small
communities with limited resources can expand their waste management
options to establish effective waste prevention and recycling programs, state-
of-the-art landfills, and waste-to-energy facilities.
    Tribes can gain significant
    economic and environmental
    benefits from partnering. The
    following are some of the reasons
    you might want to consider
    establishing an MSW partnership.
    Greater economies of scale.
    Through a partnership agreement,
    you can implement projects that
    may otherwise be too expensive for
          your tribe. By pooling financial and
          administrative resources, person-
          nel, and equipment, project costs
          can be spread among several
          jurisdictions or tribes, making
          them more affordable.

          Protection of human health
          and the environment.
          A partnership arrangement can
          make more waste management
          options available to you, thereby
          ensuring selection of the most
          appropriate solid waste manage-
          ment strategy. This in turn can
          help prevent contamination of
drinking water and soil and
enhance environmental
protection. In addition, a sound
waste management strategy
minimizes waste-related risks,
such as fire, injury, and the spread
of disease.

Reduction in capital costs.
By partnering with other
communities, you can combine
resources and gain better access to
financial assistance available from
federal and state agencies and
private sources.
                                                         Printed on paperthat contains at least 20 percent postconsumer fiber.

Grants and loans are often more
readily available to solid waste
management programs that are
regional, rather than local, in
scope. Consequently, as a multi-
tribal partnership, you may be
more likely to obtain financial
assistance for MSW management
than you would be when applying
as a single tribe.

Operational cost savings.
By joining forces, you can cut
solid waste hauling and disposal
costs. Instead of paying to landfill
recyclable materials, for example,
you can avoid disposal costs
through an intertribal waste
prevention and recycling program.
In some cases, you might even
generate revenue from the sale of

Job creation.
Waste management partnerships
in tribal communities can help
create local jobs through recycling
centers, transfer stations, and
other partnership activities.

Increase in compliance
with state and federal
regulatory guidelines.
Through increased access to
funding opportunities and
technical assistance, you can
acquire the resources and know-
how to manage your waste in
accordance with solid waste
management regulations. You can
thus avoid costly cleanups and
other liabilities that can result
from improper management of
solid waste.
Although a partnership agreement
can offer many advantages, there are
potential barriers as well.

Potential partners can
have different MSW
management goals.
While neighboring communities
might share many common solid
•waste management needs and
concerns, disparities in
population, geography, industrial
base, or other characteristics can
make it-difficult for communities
to agree upon specific regional

Multijurisdictional programs
can face varying regulations.
Regions that straddle two or more
jurisdictions, such as a reservation
and a nearby state, might need to
resolve issues raised by
contradictory or conflicting laws,
regulations, and solid waste
management plans.

Potential inequities can exist
among neighboring tribes.
If you are considering a partnership
agreement, you should recognize
that the costs and benefits of
partnership projects, although
shared, will not necessarily be
identical for all communities. A
tribe sending its -waste to a facility
shared with its neighbors, for
example, benefits from not having
to site and manage a landfill within
its jurisdiction. It probably will be
subject to tipping fees, however,
levied by the tribe in which the
waste management site is located.
Conversely, while the community
hosting the regional facility bears
the financial costs and the potential
conflicts associated with siting a
solid waste management facility
within its jurisdiction, it is likely to
receive such benefits as revenue
from tipping fees and less costly
local disposal.

Hauling waste across
jurisdictions can cause
Partnership agreements can
sometimes require waste to be
transported long distances or
through neighboring areas.
Communities along routes leading
to a regional solid waste
management facility  might see an
increase in traffic. Concerns over
the resulting congestion,
pollution, dust, and wear and tear
on roads can create conflicts
among potential partners.

In most cases, partnership in
MSW management means tangi-
ble environmental and economic
benefits for your tribe. Consider,
however, the potential advantages
and disadvantages of any partner-
ship before making a commit-
ment. The following is a set of
questions  to help you decide
whether a partnership or agree-
ment is right for your tribe:

+ Are the MSW management
   needs and goals of neighboring
   communities compatible with
   your own?
+ What services and benefits does
   your community need from a
+ What services and benefits does
   the neighboring community
   (your potential partner) hope to
41 What are the potential
   drawbacks of entering into a
   partnership? How can these be
   minimized or overcome?
*• What MSW management
   activities are possible candidates
   for cooperation?

Once you determine that an MSW
management partnership can work
for your tribe, you can begin to
design an agreement. At that point
in the process, you might want to
obtain legal counsel to help negoti-
ate an agreement that maximizes
benefits for all parties involved.
The following questions can help
you toward that end:
+ What form could the
   partnership take? A contract, a
   memorandum of understanding,
   and a mutual aid agreement are
   all possibilities.
        The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and ^neighboring Swain
        County, North Carolina, both neededjp close, their, existing
        landfills and find a new way to dispose" of their MSW After
 evaluating their options, the Eastern Cherokee decided the best
 approach -was to construct a transfer station on their reservation. The
 $350,000 state-of-the-art facility, funded partly by the Indian Health
 Service, now manages all of the Tribe's MSW (except for recyclables,  .
 which are collected separately). The Tribe also contracts with SlwairL
 County to'manage their MSW

 This cooperative agreement helps offset the cost of running the
 transfer station in two ways: by collecting tipping fees from the
 county, and by decreasing per-ton operating expenses as the total
 volume of waste increases. Waste is hauled from the transfer station to
 a landfill in South Carolina through a contract with the Cherokee
 Boys' Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a variety of services.

 According to Eddie Almond, .Director, Tribal Environmental Office,
 the main benefit of this arrangement is that both the Tribe and the
 county were able to closejtheir/existing landfills, thereby eliminating
- landfill operating expenses arid associated liability costs.

 For more information about this project, contact Eddie Almond,
 Director, Tribal Envirbnmental Office, Eastern Band  of Cherokee
 Indians, at 704 497-3814.
    U.S. EPA. 1994. Joining Forces on Solid Waste Management:
    HegionaHzatwnils Working in Rural and Small Communities. EPA 530-
    K-93-001. Washington, DC (October). To order, call the EPA
    RCRA, Superfund, and EPCRA Hotline at 800 424-9346 6r TDD
    800 533-7672 (hearing impaired). Callers in the Washington, DC,
    metropolitan area must dial 703 412-9810 or TDD 703 412-3323.
 (continued on back page)

 +  Are there mechanisms in the
    agreement that allow you to
    discontinue the partnership if
    problems arise?
 +  Does the agreement require
    your tribe to accept total
    responsibility for certain
    MSW management activities?
    Does it limit tribal control or
    authority over the proposed
 +  Are there potential costs or
    revenues associated with the
    partnership? If so, how can
    these be equitably divided or
    reinvested into the project?

Once you successfully negotiate
an agreement, there are several
actions you can take to implement
the partnership:
+ Enlist the help of federal agencies.
   The Bureau of Indian Affairs
   (BIA), the Indian Health
   Service (IHS), and the U.S.
   Environmental Protection
   Agency (EPA)  provide
   communities with technical
   and financial assistance to
   facilitate the closure of open
   dumps, comply with solid
   waste regulations, and support
   partnership agreements.
4- Acquire technical assistance. State
   and local officials can help you
   connect with appropriate local
   councils or planning
   commissions. State and local
   agencies that-oversee
   environmental protection
   efforts, community planning,
   or other activities can provide
   assistance as well. Contact
   other tribes and nontribal
   communities that are already
   working in partnership to get
   their ideas.
Secure financing for the partnership.
Financial assistance is available
from federal and state agencies
responsible for environmental
protection, community
planning, and rural
development. Private
foundations also have grants
available for this purpose. When
seeking grant money, be sure to
emphasize that the funds will be
used for a regional project. If
funds are unavailable from
outside sources, divide the costs
evenly between the
communities involved or
according to community
population or budget size.
Educate tribal members  about the
partnership. Informing your
community about the purposes
of the agreement is essential to
the success of the project.
Inform citizens about how the
planned changes will affect
them and how the tribe as a
whole  stands to benefit.
United States
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Solid Waste (5306W)
401 M Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20460
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use