The city of Orem is giving Provo a neighborly helping hand with an idea Provo officials have been trying for some time to sell to Utah County cities - a countywide garbage dump.

Orem officials have written the mayors of 11 cities in northern Utah County urging their cities to form a united effort to solve garbage dumping problems all of the communities will face in the near future.Meanwhile, Provo is ready to begin building a new dump of its own (see related story on B2) and has invited other Utah County cities to help pay for development of that landfill in exchange for dumping rights.

Provo officials say countywide cooperation in developing its landfill site is the best way for all cities to solve their inevitable garbage dump problems.

Orem isn't ready to go quite that far. But Orem officials are encouraging all member cities of the North County Landfill District, for which Orem acts as trustee, to consider joining the Provo project.

"Our City Council has adopted a resolution saying it's time to look at handling solid waste disposal problems together," Orem City Manager Daryl Berlin said. "And as we understand things, there is a real opportunity for cities to join Provo with their Bayview Landfill project."

That's the position Orem took in its letter to North County Landfill District officials and to the 11 mayors, Berlin said. The landfill district's board is scheduled to discuss the issue in its June meeting.

There are several reasons why Orem is considering paying some of the upfront development costs of Provo's Bayview project to ensure future dumping rights. For one, the Orem City Council is unanimously opposed to expanding the North County District dump in Lindon.

The Lindon landfill is too close to Utah Lake to be environmentally desirable, and the dump is visible from I-15 - giving passing motorists a none-too-pleasant impression of the area.

There's another reason. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected next year to issue new standards governing landfills. The new regulations are likely to be much more stringent than current ones.

Bringing existing landfills into compliance with the new regulations could be prohibitively expensive, public officials fear. It may prove less costly to close older landfills, replacing them with new ones built to meet the EPA regulations.

But despite those motives, Orem isn't ready to commit to the Bayview project until Provo overcomes at least one hurdle. Among 26 conditions placed on development of the Bayview site by the Utah County Planning Commission is one that restricts dumping at Bayview to Provo garbage only.

Provo officials hope the county will relax that condition to allow other cities to dump at Bayview, and Provo appears to have the backing of county commissioners.

"We hope we can all solve this together, rather than every city going off on its own," Berlin said. "If Provo can solve the legal entanglement, then we're committed" to Bayview.

"If it's not feasible to join them because of the legal problem, then the (North County) district may look for another site west of the lake."