Bakersfield has new environmentally-friendly street sweepers

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The city has recently converted all of its street sweepers to more environmentally-friendly trucks.

The newer trucks are powered by natural gas and save thousands of dollars a year in fuel cost as well as emitting far fewer pollutants into the air.

The old-style street sweeping trucks ran on diesel and were vacuum-based. The new fleet operates through a brush system.

"We started phasing in the new CNG vehicles about 10 years ago and within the last year have completed the process," said Michael Connor, city of Bakersfield Street Superintendent.

The city usually receives about five complaints a week from residents saying that the newer trucks aren't as efficient because a dirt residue is left behind.

However, city crews say standing water left in the gutter create the problem, not the trucks.

"When people overwater their lawns, it flows to the gutter. When our trucks go by and sweep, it leaves a film residue of dirt on the asphalt," said Connor.

Street maintenance officials say the new state water restrictions should help curb the situation.

"We felt the new water conservation efforts will be a plus. People will be watering less when we are out there sweeping,"said Connor.

The street sweeping trucks work in tandem. If there's too much water and debris in the gutter, the first truck will move the debris away from the curb. After the water flows back, the second truck will go through and pick up the debris, leaving just the water behind.

"Water is the worst thing on street sweeping days. We hope residents can understand that on the day we sweep, maybe they can shut down the water system. Hopefully with more drought awareness, that will help us out tremendously," said Damon Chow, city street cleaning division supervisor.


Another problem city crews face on street sweeping day is when cars are parked on the street while they are trying to do their job.

"We can't pick up all the debris if a car is parked, we have to go around the vehicle and will lose at least three sweeper lengths, leaving debris in the gutter line," said Chow.

City officials say in order for them to do a more efficient job cleaning the streets, residents should know what day of the month they will be going through their area.

"We would like for them to remove their vehicles and any standing water when we are operating in their area," said Chow.


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