Debris Recovery Ordinance

Disaster Debris Guidelines
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released guidelines identifying the circumstances under which disaster debris from private roads and gated communities may be eligible for reimbursement. In addition to the fact that such collection must be necessary to serve a vital public interest for the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the County, the agency collecting the debris must have the right to enter upon the property - in this case private as well as public roads including gated communities - to collect and remove the disaster debris.

Palm Beach County Post-Disaster Debris Recovery Ordinance
In order to comply with FEMA requirements, the SWA amended its Mandatory Collection Resolution (PDF), and the SWA and Palm Beach County have worked together to adopt the Palm Beach County Post-Disaster Debris Recovery Ordinance (PDF). The Ordinance authorizes and directs the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, upon a declaration of a disaster pursuant to the provisions of the County's Emergency Management Plan, to enter in and upon the public and private roads, including gated communities, of the unincorporated areas of the County to collect and remove debris.

Managing Debris
The system for managing disaster debris in Palm Beach County is unique. The SWA is a Dependent Special District created by a Special Act of the Florida Legislature to manage solid waste disposal for all of the municipalities and the unincorporated area, and to manage solid waste collection in the unincorporated area. The Special Act grants the SWA the authority to adopt a mandatory collection program for solid waste, and the SWA entered into an Interlocal Agreement (PDF) with the County in 1988 to assume responsibility for solid waste collection in the unincorporated area. The SWA has adopted a Mandatory Collection Resolution requiring all improved property in the unincorporated area to participate in the SWA collection system. This system includes 9 franchise areas serviced by private haulers under contract to the SWA. These contracts are 5-year exclusive franchises awarded by a competitive bid process.

The Palm Beach County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan designates the SWA as the support agency responsible for disaster debris management. To meet that responsibility, the SWA collects debris from the unincorporated area, and operates debris management sites to process disaster debris and prepare it for shipping to final disposal. The SWA allows municipalities that execute an Interlocal Agreement with the SWA to deliver debris to SWA temporary debris management sites. The Interlocal Agreements establish conditions for delivery and require each municipality to pay its share of any unreimbursed operating and disposal costs.

Amending Mandatory Collection Resolution
To address the specific issue of collecting disaster debris from private roads and gated communities, the SWA amended its Mandatory Collection Resolution on July 18, 2006, adding definitions and criteria for declaring an emergency, establishing the right-of-entry to collect disaster debris and authorizing collection from private roads and gated communities. The amended Resolution also indemnifies agencies that may reimburse the SWA for debris management costs from liability which may result from the collection of disaster debris.

Final Passage of Ordinance

The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners approved the Palm Beach County Post-Disaster Debris Recovery Ordinance on first reading on July 18, 2006. The final passage of the Ordinance on August 15, 2006, maximizes the probability that the SWA will be reimbursed by FEMA for the cost of collecting disaster debris from private roads and gated communities.

More Information
If you have any questions, please email us, or call SWA Customer Information Services at 561-697-2700, or toll-free from southern and western Palm Beach County at 866-SWA INFO.