Hanna Rodriguez, PE, SC from our team was invited to present at the 2018 SWANA Arkansas Chapter Annual Conference last April 4, 2018. A waste management summary prior to the 2017 Hurricane Season was provided to participants. Such summary included, legal background including regulatory provisions, landfill closure orders, and a general sense of stakeholders involved in setting forth a comprehensive and reliable Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) System.
Further, a glimpse at a risk analysis performed by Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Carmen M. Figueroa-Santiago, PE, SC was provided. This analysis, finalized in August 2017, was based on the island’s waste management infrastructure as a key step in adaptation towards climate change resilience. A scientific approach described in the International Organization for Standardization’s document ISO 31000 Risk management – Principles and guidelines was adapted and used. Additionally, adjustments and base assumptions designed for the PR Climate Change Council (PRCCC) infrastructure evaluation sub-committee led by the Assistance in Natural Disaster Management Commission (“CAMDN”, per its Spanish acronym) of the PR Professional College of Engineers (“CIAPR”, per its Spanish acronym) were considered. This risk assessment provided an overview of crucial issues to be encountered in the future and were exalted by the 2017 Hurricane Season.
The 2017 Hurricane Season, highlighted by Hurricane Irma and Maria’s impact to Puerto Rico and the USVI, was an unusually active one. Summarizing first response efforts to ongoing debris management, Ms. Rodriguez provided a general third-party perspective. The impact these events have had and will continue to have on the industry must be perceived as opportunities to avoid prolonging landfill closures and implementation of alternatives focused complying with the waste management hierarchy.
Manifestations of climate change such as higher temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, and more frequent or intense extreme events are bearing an even heavier burden on our industry, in particular in the already struggling Caribbean islands. In conclusion to this presentation, Ms. Rodriguez reiterated the need to understand these impacts. It is widely known that solid waste management infrastructure is critical to maintain sanitary conditions, hence the importance of designing and maintaining systems and infrastructure resilient to climate change. To this point, our team looks forward to upcoming opportunities where our expertise is necessary for developing SMART goals, as well as resilient and sustainable solutions for the island and the Caribbean Region.
A very special and personal appreciation to Mrs. Wendy Bland, current Director at Benton County Solid Waste District and International Board Representative of the SWANA Arkansas Chapter, for the introduction. Finally, to the generous SWANA Chapter Board for their invitation and interest in the topics presented and the Caribbean Region´s well-being.
Fernando L. Rodríguez, PE, SC