Lox Groves Finalizes Stricter Livestock Waste Ordinance

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council on Tuesday approved the final reading of a livestock waste-hauling ordinance designed to curtail the large amounts of horse manure and bedding being dumped in the town.

The ordinance was the latest in a long line of laws passed by the town beginning in 2010, with limited success, to try to curtail commercial waste haulers who have dumped illegally in the town, sometimes filling lots several feet deep.

The existing ordinance had been largely unenforceable under the pressure of tons of horse waste and bedding coming into the community daily, and haulers who find weaknesses in the ordinance and its enforcement.

Not only is the practice onerous for neighbors, but the town officials have become increasingly concerned about water quality within the drainage canals after residents with scientific backgrounds have claimed that the waste can contribute to increased phosphorus, which will soon be regulated by the federal government.

Passage of the ordinance followed discussion the previous evening by the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District about canal pollution concerns emanating from livestock waste.

Supervisor Frank Schiola, who is also the town’s public works director and has tried with limited success to stop waste haulers who dump illegally, said the ordinance will require cooperation from the Village of Wellington, which he said is the primary source of the material.

“I’m going to repeat what I said at the meeting last night just so that you know that the district board has directed our attorney to write a letter to the Village of Wellington to advise them that they must enforce their ordinance with waste haulers,” Schiola said. “The residents of the district and the town have become a dumping ground, and we are a toilet for all of the manure coming out of Wellington. As I said last night, 5,000 to 7,000 cubic yards during horse season come into Loxahatchee Groves every week.”

Schiola pointed out that Wellington’s ordinance provides that waste haulers must use an approved disposal site.

“Here’s the problem: once it gets to Southern Blvd., they wash their hands of it,” Schiola said. “It comes in here; it becomes our problem.”

He said Wellington requires only minimal certification from the haulers that their loads are going to a legitimate dump site. “Wellington has not once called the town office and said, ‘Hey, is this address an approved facility?’ The problem is if Wellington isn’t enforcing it on their end, it’s going to be really hard to enforce it on our end.”

Mayor Dave Browning said the town will also be notifying Wellington that Loxahatchee Groves is no longer an approved site for dumping animal waste.

Councilman Tom Goltzené made a motion to adopt the ordinance, which carried 5-0.

The council also approved an additional $10,000 a year to go to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for additional enforcement.