Solid Waste Management Workshops

H-GAC's solid waste workshops focus on in-depth studies of different topics each quarter.

Disaster Debris Management Best Practices Workshop

Date and Time

June 8, 2023
1:30 to 4:30 p.m.


In Person and On Zoom

Houston-Galveston Area Council
3555 Timmons Lane
Conference Room B&C, Second Floor
Houston, TX 77027

Join us for a hybrid event to discuss how natural disasters challenge communities every year and are expected to increase in frequency and intensity. After a disaster, communities are tasked with the difficult job of managing disaster debris on top of the potential loss of homes, lives, power, and critical facilities. Debris may damage infrastructure, block road access, and pose threats to human health and the environment. Cleaning it up can be time-consuming and costly, and recovery is not complete until all debris has been managed.

Topics will include:

  • Disaster Debris Management 101 - Disaster debris preparedness; Immediate response actions; Long term recovery; and Special debris operations (e.g., dangerous trees, private property debris removal, waterway debris removal)
  • Debris Management Sites - Purpose of a debris management site (DMS); Site selection considerations; Public vs private sites; Reduction methods; Environmental considerations; Monitoring; and Site approval
  • Public Information - The changing face of public information; Developing messages; and Response to no-notice incidents
  • Managing Finances While Mitigating Risk - Preparing response for proposal documents; Scoring and contractor selection; Documenting hours; and Documenting expenses

The workshop will also provide the participants an opportunity to discuss concerns and share their best practices and lessons learned from their past debris management response and recovery efforts.

Workshop Speakers

Presenters for the day from Tetra Tech include:

John Buri

John Buri - Director, Post-Disaster Programs is a versatile disaster mitigation, response, and recovery and grant management professional. Mr. Buri has provided senior management oversight on 22 major disasters declarations for over 100 clients since 2007, representing over $5 billion in disaster-related grants. He has been extensively involved in numerous emergency management and recovery missions in Texas since 2007. Due to established working relationships throughout Texas with groups like Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), FEMA Region VI, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Mr. Buri provides H-GAC jurisdictions with unique knowledge and practical understanding of planning, reimbursement, and monitoring that can greatly assist H-GAC jurisdictions in future responses.

Nick Russo III

Nick Russo III - Director, Post Disaster Environmental Services is an environmental services expert with over 20 years of experience in disaster recovery, environmental resources, and water management. He joined Tetra Tech in early 2022 after spending 19 years with the Harris County Engineering Department. He has vast experience in coordinating environmental, sustainability, and regulatory programs at the local, state, and federal levels. Mr. Russo worked on numerous federally declared disasters including Hurricane Ike, the Tax Day Flood, Hurricane Harvey, Tropical Storm Imelda, and the COVID-19 Pandemic where he conducted damage assessments, debris removal, and program management in coordination with FEMA and other regulatory agencies.

Brian Rutherford

Brian Rutherford - Senior Emergency Management Consultant has developed or updated over 50 Disaster Debris Management Plans and has developed and conducted debris management training and exercises for jurisdictions across the nation for the past 15 years. Mr. Rutherford has managed and assisted in the conducting of debris operations in response to hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires. Mr. Rutherford has also been involved in public health emergency plan development, continuity of operations planning, infectious disease planning, plan assessments, public information plan development, hazard mitigation planning, hurricane planning and response, wildfire response, flooding response, training design, and meeting facilitation.

Environmental and Historic Preservation Considerations in Debris Operations Webinar

Date and Time

July 20, 2023
10 a.m. to 12 p.m.


On Zoom

Join us for a webinar to discuss how following a natural disaster, communities are faced with the challenge of managing disaster debris along with the potential loss of lives, homes, property, power, and critical facilities. Emergency protective measures and debris removal are some of the most common categories of activities that may detrimentally affect the environment or historic properties. In historic districts, or when dealing with historic buildings, debris removal activities have the potential to affect air quality and water quality. Hazardous materials may also be present and released. Due to the sensitive nature of debris removal activities in these areas, there are significant consequences for noncompliance.

Topics will include:

  • The role of regulatory agencies in debris operations
  • Overview of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Understanding environmental justice concerns
  • Conducting disposal options
  • Protection of wetlands
  • Regulations on outdoor burning
  • Disposal of deceased animals
  • Handling and disposing of household hazardous materials
  • Historical considerations

Webinar participants will have the opportunity to share their best practices and lessons learned and speak directly with experts in debris management operations.

Past Solid Waste Workshops

These quarterly workshops provide attendees with in-depth information on the selected topic.

Participants at the workshop heard from Tetra Tech team about disaster debris related funding opportunities available to local jurisdictions. 

Participants at this workshop heard from Brandon Karr, Chief Pilot and UAS Program Coordinator, with the Pearland Police Department, the rules surrounding drone use and how they are used in environmental enforcement. 

Participants at this workshop discussed information on best management practices for disaster debris management and information on current state and federal regulations.

Participants heard from those working in household hazardous waste and recycling about finding new solutions and strategies during challenging times. Speakers included Cheryl Burton- Fentress with the Harris County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, and Adrian Hernandez abd Christina Greenamyre with Keep Pearland Beautiful which operates the Stella Roberts Recycling Center 

Participants had a conversation on the Texas Recycling Market Development Plan, released by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in August 2021. Presenters were Brittany Rosenberg with State of Texas Alliance for Recycling, and Scott Pasternak with Burns & McDonnell.

Participants in this workshop heard from experts across the region and state as they discussed strategies, resources, and innovative ideas to empower people to help reduce litter in their communities.


  • Texas Litter Database
    • Dr. Erin Kinney, Houston Advanced Research Center
  • Trash Free Texas
    • Kendall Guidroz, Houston-Galveston Area Council
  • Empowering Neighborhood Groups
    • TaKasha Francis, City of Houston
  • Innovative Strategies and Resources to Encourage Litter Cleanups
    • Crysta Guzman, North Central Texas Council of Governments

Participants at this workshop learned emerging trends in disaster recovery, technology in disaster recovery, public information strategies following a disaster, and best practices in preparedness initiative. 

Participants at this half-day workshop learned about activities that can assist jurisdictions in being prepared to respond to and recover from a disaster debris generating incident.

Solid Waste and Recycling Events and Workshops

As landfill space and raw materials become scarcer, recycling of used materials becomes a more cost effective and sensible option. Periodically H-GAC hosts workshops to bring new ideas and knowledge to local governments on a wide range of recycling-related topics.

Past Events

H-GAC hosts quarterly Regional Recycling Roundtables to promote recycling and waste reduction and provide a forum for discussion about recycling issues within the H-GAC region. Some presentations from past roundtables are below.

H-GAC hosts quarterly Organics Recovery Roundtables to promote the recovery of food waste and other organic materials and provide a forum for discussion of challenges, possible solutions, successes, and new ideas within the H-GAC region. Some presentations from past roundtables are below.

Solid waste and recycling contracts are one of the largest value contracts for a local government. In addition, it is a long term partnership that is essential to achieving a community's solid waste management and recycling goals. Key topics of the workshop included the procurement process and contract provisions.

Food waste is one of the largest components of the waste stream in the United States. It is estimated that less than five percent of all food waste that can be diverted from landfills is actually being diverted. For this reason, H-GAC funded a study to see how commercial food waste diversion could be increased using a collaborative approach with the private sector.

This workshop provided participants with information on locating and developing partnership opportunities, best practices for contracts, and real world examples of how partnerships have been implemented in order to maximize budgets and benefits for all parties.

H-GAC, with the help of a consultant, conducted a study to estimate the current and potential economic contribution of the recycling industry in the region. This analysis was conducted with the following goals in mind:

  • Encourage local governments to continue to invest (and ideally increase their investment) in recycling in the region
  • Target specific types of recycling or reuse businesses to be nurtured and grown due to their potential impact on the regional economy
  • Make the Houston-Galveston region more sustainable by viewing discarded materials as a resource rather than a waste

H-GAC hosted a workshop and invited Texas Department of Transportation and local governments to talk about incorporating recycled materials (concrete, asphalt shingles, compost, tires, and electronics) in future roadway projects while maintaining a quality product and strong budget.

Large venues and events generate a large amount of waste in a short period of time. These events are perfectly suited to promote recycling and provide an excellent forum to motivate event attendees, staff, and volunteers to lead as environmental stewards in a public setting. Fortunately, there are many ways for event organizers to dramatically reduce the amount of waste and make sure proper recycling measures are being applied.

Environmental Enforcement

H-GAC hosts periodic workshops to provide a forum for learning about and discussing illegal dumping and related issues within the H-GAC region. The group includes peace officers, county prosecutors, city officials, and personnel from TCEQ's Region 12 office. If you want to be included in our invitation list for these events please contact Erin Livingston at [email protected]

Past Events

Archived Rountables

Environmental Enforcement and Small Business Assistance
Thursday, January 22, 2015

Local Government and State Enforcement Coordination
Tuesday October 14, 2014

Illicit Discharges & Honey Trucks
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Building a Good Case 
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Junked Vehicles, Vehicle Storage Facilities, & Auto Parts Recyclers 
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Staying Safe when You Encounter Hazardous Materials 
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Enforcement Challenges and Strategies in both Rural and Urban Communities
Thursday, April 25, 2013

Illegal Dumping In and Along Waterways 
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cool Tools - Cameras and GIS 
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Civil Prosecution of Environmental Violations
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Criminal Prosecution
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Environmental Enforcement after a Natural Disaster
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tires - Generation, Storage and Transport
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Outdoor Burning
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Junk Vehicles
Thursday, April 7, 2011

Air Quality Issues
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Setting up Illegal Dumping Stings
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Automotive Wrecking and Salvage Yards Enforcement and Licensing
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Illegally Dumped Medical Waste
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interviewing Techniques for Environmental Crimes
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do's and Don'ts for Environmental Investigators
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Industrial Stormwater
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Auto Salvage Yards 
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pipe Salvage Yards
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Concrete Related Activities
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pharmaceutical Waste Management

On October 27, 2009, the Houston-Galveston Area Council hosted a workshop "Pharmaceuticals Management for Local Governments", sponsored by Pharmecology and Waste Management. The event featured presentations by prominent local and statewide experts on promoting and facilitating the collection of pharmaceutical waste.

Participants heard regional success stories, learned about current regulations, and discussed strategies for improving collection in the Houston Galveston Area and around the State.

Program and Speaker Information