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Landfill growing pains discussed
New methane regulations, future expansion on commission agenda
landfill discussion pic
With a diagram of the Barton County Landfill on an overhead screen, the county commissioners discuss new rules regulating the landfill and plans to expand it. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

The Barton County Landfill is fine for now and has plenty of capacity to meet county needs. But, new, more stringent, regulations regarding methane emissions were on the County Commission’s agenda Monday morning as future growth of the facility is in the works.

Commissioners approved a contract for increased testing, as well as a study paving the way for the next expansion.

First, “the Barton County Landfill is regulated for emissions by the New Sources Performance Standards for Municipal Solid Waste,” said Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock. Based on the amount of waste currently accepted, and calculated capacity, the landfill exceeds the tier one and a tier two survey must be completed per the revised rules.

Currently, the landfill has a capacity of 2.5 million tons of solid waste. That is the level at which the second tier guidelines kick in, he said.

Approved was a bid from SCS Engineers of Long Beach, Calif., for the methane and other landfill gas testing and reporting. The field survey and required reporting will cost $24,600.   Hatchock said the money was planned for the 2019 solid waste budget. However, “we have to do this every five years. It will be an ongoing expense.”

Now, he said the landfill has a “passive” ventilation system that allows methane to escape into the atmosphere. This is legal for the time being.

Eventually, it will become more complicated, he said. As the waste degrades, creating more methane, and more trash comes in, the gas will have to be burned off or utilized as an alternative energy source.

Looking at the future

In addition, the landfill is currently placing waste in the phase three of the landfill, Hathcock said. The facility is permitted to handle up to eight phases.

Phase three is not full, he said. Improved compaction of the waste and ongoing recycling efforts have helped extend its life.

But, “to facilitate maximum compaction of the waste, and best operation of the landfill, management suggests constructing expansion phase four,” Hathcock said.

SCS Engineers submitted a proposal to prepare a set of construction plans, and specification and bid documents for use in the bidding and construction of phase four. The cost of $48,500 was approved. 

Hathcock stressed that this is just the first step, and not the actual construction. That will cost around $1.5 million, an expense that is budgeted for 2020 when work is set to begin.

“We’ve planning for this,” he said. “We have plenty in reserves to cover it.”

Since phase three was added in 2011, the department has been setting money aside in anticipation.

SCS’s work will set the stage to take bids and break ground, he said. 

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Served as the Board of Canvassers for the USD 428 special bond election. The mail-in election concluded last Thursday.

• Approved a proposal for tier two landfill gas emission testing and reporting at the Barton County Landfill.

• Approved a proposal for phase four pre-construction services – construction plans, specifications and bid documents, bidding assistance and pre-construction soil testing at the landfill.

• Heard a departmental update from County Administrator Phil Hathcock.