For far too long the citizens and public officials of Rutherford County have chosen to ignore what is now proving to be a serious economic and environmental threat to the well-being of our community. The source of that danger comes from the Middle Point Landfill at Walter Hill, also known as Mt. Trashmore.
As a rather ominous monument to the excesses of 50 some years of reckless and indiscriminate consumerism, for those of us not living in close proximity to this malodorous eyesore it's been easy to pay it no mind. We've enjoyed the benefits of free garbage service and given little thought to what the end result would be when and if the landfill reached full capacity and could no longer accommodate any more of our trash.
That day will be here far sooner than we might like. The current estimate is that we have five years or so left; however, given our rate of phenomenal growth, that estimate may prove unduly optimistic.
It's important to note that we have ignored landfills at our own peril as this one has long been an ongoing source of unidentified leachate leaking into the Stones River where we get much of our drinking water. Indeed, there was a time when hazardous radioactive waste was dumped at Middle Point. No doubt it is still buried there.
Coming up with satisfactory solutions for dealing with our upcoming waste disposal crisis is a daunting task which will not be an easy or inexpensive fix. In the meantime, while our public officials debate, confer and visit various facilities around the country learning about the various trash disposal methods employed by other municipalities; our tax-paying public who will ultimately foot the bill for whatever decisions are reached remain poorly informed.
We don't know what the options are and what is being considered as applicable and/or desirable for this community.
In contrast, Nashville, grappling with these same problems, is encouraging and including its citizens to actively participate in the fact-finding and decision-making process. It is doing that by holding a series of public meetings — six so far — the goal being to determine how best to achieve Zero Waste.
It seems appropriate to suggest that the people of Rutherford County deserve the same consideration and that we should be allowed input in deciding which waste management approach(s) will best serve us and future generations.
The ideal way to do that would be for our county government to sponsor various town halls around the county designed to educate and inform the public and solicit our opinions. These town halls should feature question and answer panel discussions with county officials, waste management experts, and community groups who advocate for solid waste solutions.
It also seems important to include interested student groups at MTSU by holding one of these forums there.
If you concur that since we are all part of the problem, we should also be a part of the solution, I suggest that those sentiments be conveyed to our Rutherford County Mayor and County Commissioners by asking them to sponsor public town hall meetings whereby residents can play a role in deciding on the type of waste-management approach we want for Rutherford County.
Chloe Cerutti has been a Murfreesboro resident since 2007. She is a member of the local branch of SOCM (Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment), an organization with a long history of environmental and social activism committed to finding better and healthier alternatives to dealing with waste management.