The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority is quickly approaching their one-year anniversary in providing sanitation services to Santa Rosa County after entering an inter local agreement with the SRC Board of Commissioners.  The transition, which began on January 2, got off to bumpy start after many SRC residents were initially left without a garbage service.

Those issues have since passed, according to ECUA spokesperson Jim Roberts.

“We had a lot of people sign up at the last minute,” he said. “Those problems eased up after the first month.”

 Roberts said the ECUA offers services to around 20,000 residents in Santa RosaCounty and it is continuing to grow.

“That number fluctuates,” he said. “We are adding at least five new accounts every day.”

With the expansion came an additional 37 ECUA employees working not only in collecting trash and recyclables but also in customer service and finance departments, Roberts said. During the transition, ECUA also added new compressed natural gas vehicles.

“We added approximately 22 new CNG vehicles to service the SRC area…and a variety of different type trucks, not just Sanitation collection trucks,” Roberts said in an email. “We have the largest CNG fleet in the entire state of Florida.”

The ECUA is also in the midst of building a recycling center and a composting facility in Cantonment at the ECUA’s Central Water Reclamation Facility. Currently, the ECUA is transporting all recyclable materials to a facility in Montgomery, Alabama. Roberts said the  recycling facility, which is currently under construction, is expected to open in May of 2016.

It  will process yard debris into a compost material through the use of heavy machinery.

With the new system, the ECUA is also starting a new campaign called “Brown is the New Green,” encouraging customers to use brown, compostable yard waste bags instead of large plastic bags.

Using environmentally friendly bags will not only make the composting process easier, it will also keep plastic out of the composting process, Roberts said.  

The brown compost bags are available for purchase at local retailers, Roberts said. However, the ECUA will soon be giving out these bags to customers at upcoming community events.    

In a presentation, ECUS representatives said the two new facilities, along with the new trash bag campaign, are just a few ways the ECUA is becoming more green-friendly.

“ (ECUA) would welcome an opportunity to create a positive environmental image and/or message to a defined, environmental conscious consumer base.”