Heads Up September 9, 2022

Here’s some need-to-know information for the week:

Emergency Nurse Navigation Program set to launch on Sept. 13

The City of Boulder is partnering with American Medical Response (AMR) to bring a new service to the community that is designed to quickly determine a person’s right level of care based on an individual’s medical needs when 911 is called.

The Emergency Nurse Navigation Program, designed and implemented by AMR, works by routing dispatcher-triaged 911 callers with non-emergent injuries or illnesses to a Colorado State Licensed nurse for assessment. A nurse will then assess a caller’s symptoms and refer them to the most appropriate medical care. Steps taken by the Nurse Navigator could include a virtual visit with a board-certified emergency physician, home health suggestions to best meet a patient’s needs, or transport, without an ambulance, to a non-emergent local healthcare provider. The patient benefits through the more direct communication and care that can save time and money. Medical information provided during calls will continue to be considered private patient information.

The City of Boulder Emergency Nurse Navigation Program service will launch on Sept. 13. Boulder is the first community in Boulder County to implement a Nurse Navigation Program into its 911 systems. Similar programs are in place in 10 other states and the District of Columbia. Data collected from other communities continue to show that in addition to ensuring high and low acuity calls receive the most appropriate level of care, this program alleviates strain on EMS and healthcare systems.

For more information, please contact Jenna Steege, Boulder Fire-Rescue’s EMS administrator, at SteegeJ@bouldercolorado.gov.

Tribal representatives visited Boulder and are providing OSMP input for the Fort Chambers – Poor Farm planning process

City of Boulder staff extend their gratitude to representatives from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, the Northern Arapaho and the Northern Cheyenne who came to Boulder in late July to begin providing city staff input and feedback on the development of a plan to guide how the city may manage its Fort Chambers – Poor Farm open space property. The city recognizes that the history of Fort Chambers and the marker on or near the property are local legacies of American-European colonization that violently exiled Indigenous Peoples from their homelands and are a direct, local connection to the Sand Creek Massacre.

During the recent visit, Tribal Leaders and Representatives and Open Space and Mountain Parks staff:

  • Outlined future city/Tribal Nation collaboration. City staff and Tribal Representatives discussed creating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will further outline the process, roles, and responsibilities for this Site Management Plan collaboration. They also discussed a schedule for future city/Tribal Nation meetings recognizing that the management plan may take time since Tribal Representatives and Tribal Nations consult with many federal, state, and local agencies across the county. Tribal Representatives expressed their preference to comment and provide feedback on staff-developed management plan concepts.
  • Spoke about city open space and the open space purposes. Staff and tribal representatives discussed the Open Space and Mountain Parks system in general, as well as the city charter and how it has specific open space purposes that guide how OSMP manages city open space. Tribal representatives expressed support for the open space purposes represented on the property.
  • Toured the Fort Chambers - Poor Farm property. City Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff provided information on the property’s connection to the Sand Creek Massacre – in which more than 100 Boulder-area men participated. During the site visit, city staff also provided background on the property’s other features, including the property’s historic home and outbuildings as well as the property’s significant scenic, ecological and agricultural resources.
  • Discussed education and interpretation needs on the property. City staff and Tribal Representatives viewed and spoke about the marker on the property and steps needed to either reinterpret it or remove it from the property. Tribal representatives encouraged staff to not solely focus on telling the story of how the fort was utilized but to also communicate events before and after the massacre. Representatives said it is critical that Indigenous perspectives be reflected in how the events and story are told.

OSMP staff also provided a written update on this project to the Open Space Board of Trustees this week. Continued staff conversations with Tribal Nations in Montana, Wyoming and Oklahoma will set the foundation for the property management plan and inform future public engagement opportunities with Boulder community members, including Indigenous communities and organizations, agricultural and local food operators, local historic preservationists, and individuals and groups interested in natural and recreational resources. This broader community engagement will commence after the core discussions with the tribes have been completed.

For more information, please contact Katie Knapp, project manager, at knappk@bouldercolorado.gov or 303-441-4107.

City to enact changes to Universal Zero Waste Ordinance requirements to address contamination in compost

Adopted in 2015, the City of Boulder’s Universal Zero Waste Ordinance (UZWO) requires all properties, businesses, special events and waste haulers to provide composting, recycling and landfill collection services to the Boulder community. The program has helped the community divert more than half its waste from the landfill, but challenges remain to achieve the city’s target of 85% diversion by 2025.

Chief among them: compost stream contamination.

The community’s compostable materials, whether picked up in curbside bins or directly from businesses, is processed by A1 Organics. Recently, A1 informed the city and its zero waste partners of very high levels of contamination at their facility, primarily from the commercial sector and restaurants. Contaminants included plastics, disposable gloves, glass, non-compostable to-go containers and diapers, mostly present in customer-facing compost collection receptacles. As reported in some recent news reports, A1 began rejecting entire loads of materials collected for composting from several communities, including Boulder, directing them to the landfill.

To address this urgent challenge, the city, in consultation and partnership with Eco-Cycle, Western Disposal, and Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE), is enacting changes to the UZWO requirements:

  1. Address customer-level contamination issues: Allow businesses to remove front-of-house, customer-facing compost receptacles. (Customer-facing recycling and back-of-house composting will still be required).
  2. Reduce bathroom-generated contamination: Allow businesses to remove customer bathroom compost receptacles.

The city will begin enacting these changes Monday, and city staff have begun the process of updating the City Manager’s rules to reflect the new guidelines. City staff and partners are currently engaging with local businesses to communicate these changes and address concerns.

What This Means

While this was a difficult decision, these changes will help address immediate, critical challenges that threaten Boulder’s compost collection program. Boulder was one of the first cities in the nation to implement universal zero waste collection, and important lessons are learned through that process.

Removing public-facing bins is a course correction designed to decrease contamination, resulting in fewer compost loads being rejected and sent to the landfill. It also reflects an important focus on collecting high-quality organics, like food, to turn into healthy compost that can help regenerate depleted soils. According to the city’s zero waste business advisors, front-of-house composting typically does not capture much food waste. Instead, bins fill with compostable foodware, napkins, and unfortunately, many contaminants like plastics and glass. Improvements in compost quality are necessary for the city to meet its broader circular economy goals.

Other Efforts

While the city expects these changes to improve contamination from the business sector, more work is underway to address the broader challenge of waste stream contamination citywide.

First, the city and partners are developing a set of best practices to share with businesses. The city will continue to support businesses that want to keep public-facing compostable material collection available to their customers and will allow them to do so if they can meet these updated standards.

The city will also continue to leverage its communication channels to share sorting guidelines, tips and helpful resources throughout the year. This work includes call-to-action articles, such as Help Make Healthy Compost and Calling All Diners, Think Before You Throw, and interactive resources, like the Sorting 101 video and Zero Waste Sorting Quiz.

Long term, the city recognizes that a shift away from single-use items toward circularity will address many of the systemic challenges with our waste stream. For example, regulations to reduce single-use plastics, as enabled by the state’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, will address plastic contamination of our compost and soils. The city is also exploring tools to transition to durable, reusable foodware that can be used many times by businesses and individuals.

Earlier this year, the city announced that restaurants and grocery stores must once again report compliance with the UZWO. This requirement has returned after a two-year pause that sought to relieve stress on businesses during the pandemic. Boulder food businesses that have not yet certified compliance by sending images of their zero waste stations to the city should do so immediately.

For more information, please contact Policy Advisor Jamie Harkins at harkinsj@bouldercolorado.gov.


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