By Charlene Sims, email@example.com
MOUND CITY – On Monday, Dec. 11, the Linn County Commissioners learned from a representative from Terracon Consultants Inc. that the county’s construction debris (CD) landfill northeast of Prescott presently has about six years before it is full.
Company representative Tony Mellini presented a plan for extending the life of the landfill and also plans for expanding it in the future.
Mellini started by telling the commissioners that there were multiple activities that he looked at when studying the landfill issue. Those included the groundwater monitoring system, the vertical addition to the cells, the permit from Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) for expanding the cells, the existing footprint of the landfill, and the transfer station.
Mellini explained that the groundwater wells at the landfill were there to monitor the old municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill that had been closed since the 1990s. KDHE requires that closed solid waste landfills be monitored for 30 years after they are closed.
Mellini said he had a request into the state to see exactly when that period ends for the Linn County landfill. It was last checked in 2018, so he said he presumes it will be checked again in 2023. He said that a case might be made for discontinuing the monitoring if the time were nearly up.
Next, Mellini talked about the history of the CD landfill. He said it was opened in 1994 and had 100,000 cubic yards of space. In 2007, there was a major modification that increased the landfill from two cells to six cells, which brought the capacity up to 274,000 cubic yards. In 2011, a minor modification was made that increased the capacity by 6% to 288,000 cubic yards.
He said he had an application ready to apply to KDHE for a permit that would increase the landfill by nearly 10% to 316,000 cubic yards. That would keep the landfill within its lateral footing by adding vertically to the existing cells. He pointed out that a modification of 10% or less is considered minor by KDHE and does not require as much paperwork.
Mellini told the commissioners that currently there were about 50,000 cubic yards of space left in the present landfill, which will allow it to continue for about another six years. The 10 percent modification would add about 29,000 cubic yards that would allow the lifespan of the landfill to be nine to 10 years. This figure is based on the average of 7,200 cubic yards being added yearly to the landfill.
Mellini pointed out that it is a good idea to work on this now, because he has worked with other counties that have gotten down to only having a two-year capacity only to have a storm event or demolition of a large building become necessary. That took those landfills to capacity overnight.
He said that when happens, waste has to be moved.
Next, Mellini reported on the existing footprint of the landfill and where it could expand. During the past year, the commissioners have been discussing expanding the landfill west across the road.
Mellini recommended building more cells east of the landfill on 20 to 30 acres and just adding on, which would be considered by KDHE to be a major modification. He said that because many agencies have to approve permits for adding on, it would be a good idea to get started on the approval process early, possibly as soon as the vertical additions were added to the present cells.
He said that would allow the county time to do its own excavating of the new area if they did not want to hire a contractor to do it. New cells could be built in seven or eight years. That would extend the life of the CD landfill 50 to 75 years.
Discussion on the transfer station came next. Mellini went over two proposals by the county’s consulting engineer service Pfefferkorn. The first was to tear down the present 30-foot-by-40-foot transfer station building and rebuild a new one in its place. The second was to take out the existing building and add a larger one in its place. Both proposals included moving the scales.
Mellini offered a third recommendation. He said that because the current building was still useable that it remain and a larger 50-foot-by-60-foot transfer station building be built to the east of that building. He suggested keeping the scale where it is.
He said that by not demolishing the old building and keeping the scale in place the county would save $225,000. However, he did say that before that decision was made, the lifespan of the scale should be checked out. He said that the costs of new scales could range from $100,000 to $400,000.
A question was asked from the audience about using the landfill to produce methane gas. Commissioner Jason Hightower explained that would be from a municipal waste type landfill not the CD landfill. He explained that the county’s municipal waste either was transferred to Iola or Arcadia.
“For the volume of waste that you guys handle, the transfer station is the best approach,” Mellini told the commissioners.
Mellini also pointed out that by keeping the existing building and scale in place, the landfill and transfer station could stay operational during the process of building a new building.
Commissioner Hightower asked about the amount of money in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and when it had to be spent.
Assistant Public Works Director Jessica Hightower told the commissioners that there was $817,000 in the ARPA funds and it had to be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026. She said there might be a few other obligations yet to be paid.
Commissioner Jim Johnson said, “That it was just a no brainer to raise the cells.”
“I think so too,” said Commissioner Hightower.
“You guys are sitting good, you have time,” said Mellini.
Public Works Director Shaun West recommended that the commission come back next week and look at the expansion after they have all had time to look at the numbers.
West suggested that the commissioners go over what the county pays for now and what is approved now and then set up workshops to plan the project. Commissioners can pick the parts of the projects in which they want to move forward and how those parts will be funded so the project could be completed in stages.
“But I would also encourage you that, as we do this, that we stick with the engineering that we have and that we not bid out, trade horses, and redo what we’ve already done,” West said. “You have the groundwork in front of you that has been done by both Terracon and Pfefferkorn. I believe Tony’s got a good grasp on it.
“We’ve already paid for that planning and the background work. I think what we need to do is set down in a workshop, get the expansion approved and move on giving us time to sit in workshops and have an engineer tell us what bites of the apple come first and how we move this forward a phase, maybe two years at a time.
“We move this forward and implement a scale house, we implement a move, we open cells , we do this in stages over the next 10 years and we fund it over the next 10 years in stages. That way we don’t end up with tomorrow’s the sun is going to set and we have to have a plan for the next day both for the operation and the funding. I think we’ve got plenty of time to deal with this. We just need to give ourselves that time and start moving forward.“
The commissioners decided to look over the information and make a decision next week on the vertical expansion.