ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – A month after Rio Arriba County’s North Central Solid Waste Authority left some of its rural residents without trash collection. The city of Española says it is stepping up and taking over the task.

City officials say it’s a matter of safety after they say, the NCSWA in Rio Arriba County failed to come up with a solution after the department sent out a letter last month suspending curbside pickup along county and private roads.

“The city looked at that as being an issue because we have a lot of elderly residents,” said Española City Manager Jordan Yutzy. He says the original plan for residents to make the extra trek and move their waste bins closer to main roads was a recipe for disaster. “The streets they wanted to drag all these cans to are busy narrow streets,” Yutzy says. “We can’t delay traffic. It takes 30 seconds to pick up a poly cart – per poly cart – and if you have a hundred and something lined up on the street, it’s going to create a problem,” said Yutzy.

Since NCSWA’s suspension, Española’s city manager says it left over 2,000 of Española households without trash pickups but says they couldn’t leave people with the task to haul trash for themselves. “Our street department, for over a month now, has been focused on nothing but trash. Council has just come to the conclusion that it’s better off to bring it back in-house and run it essentially the way we are doing it right now but purchasing equipment to run it correctly and more efficiently,” added Yutzy.

The City of Española has since purchased three garbage trucks costing them $513,000, but officials say they are still hoping to use Rio Arriba County’s Alcalde Transfer Station for dumping. Yutzy says after the city, they helped the front half of the construction cost, paying $1.2 million. “We need to secure that money, that was taxpayer money that was paid to do it. The city is really hoping for a nice easy transition and keep things going the way they are with the JPA and don’t want it to get into litigation, but if it came down to it, we would,” said Yutzy.

Over the next month, the city of Española will begin its transition from the NCSWA and notify residents of collection days. Trash pickup fees will not change. While the city of Española will take care of waste removal within its city limits; the rest of Rio Arriba County residents affected by NCSWA’s suspension will still need to haul their own trash. KRQE reached out to NCSWA for a response, but a spokesperson declined to comment out of litigation concerns.