Flow Control

Flow Control means the ability of a governmental entity to control the disposition of waste generated within its boundaries. For the SWA, ensuring that the waste generated in the county, and the associated revenue stream, is delivered to the SWA is essential to meeting the SWA's financial obligations. Although the SWA was granted flow control authority by the Special Act (PDF), the United States Supreme Court in its May 1994 decision in C&A Carbone, Inc. vs. Town of Clarkstown declared that Flow Control Legislation violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution because such legislation potentially infringes on interstate commerce.

Flow Control Authority
With the SWA's ability to exercise legislative flow control rendered questionable, the SWA now relies on economic and contractual flow control. The United States Supreme Court discussed the viability of such measures in Carbone. Subsequent Federal Appeals Court rulings in favor of Smithtown, New York and Babylon, New York have validated the use of contractual flow control.

Economic Flow Control
The SWA uses both financial and contractual mechanisms to cause waste to be delivered to SWA designated facilities. Because residential and governmental properties are assessed for 100% of their disposal fees, and in order for their haulers to receive credits they must bring the waste to a SWA designated facility, all residential waste should remain in the county. This is economic flow control.

Contractual Flow Control
The SWA franchises the collection of solid waste and recyclables in the unincorporated area, which includes nearly half of residential property and over one third of commercial property. These contracts, which were entered into voluntarily and incorporate collection rates determined based on designated collection points and destinations, contain substantial penalties up to and including loss of the franchise for delivering material to non-designated facilities. This is contractual flow control.

Commercial Waste
With these 2 mechanisms in place, the only portion of the waste stream that is potentially at risk is the commercial waste in the municipalities. To minimize the risk, the SWA adjusts the commercial assessment to decrease or increase the tipping fee as local markets dictate. In the ten years since the Carbone decision the SWA has not experienced any threat to its waste stream.