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Letter to the Editor from the Kiowa County Commissioners

Dear Editor,
Landfill, a place to put one’s trash, is NOT so simple!  For the past two years, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Kiowa County, plus many other counties and towns of Colorado, have been in often heated discussions concerning operations.

In 2016, Eads, Haswell, Holly, Granada, Two Buttes, Walsh, Springfield, Pritchett and other landfill operations received compliance failure notifications from CDPHE.  Common to nearly all of these landfills was not having ground water monitor wells, trained operation personnel, posted acceptance signage, lack of storm water retention ponds, daily cover and more.  

After review of the compliance letters, all areas contacted Colorado Representative Kimmi Lewis, Colorado Senator Larry Crowder, US Senator Cory Gardiner, US Senator Bennet, US Representative Ken Buck and Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) regarding our struggles and frustrations. 

On January 1, 2017, CDPHE rescinded all earlier approved landfill waivers statewide. Both Eads and Haswell had waivers for cell (open pit) liners.   What this means is Eads landfill can fill the present cell; however, before another cell can be opened and used, it must meet CDPHE liner regulations with estimated cost for a one acre lined cell being $250,000!  Haswell can use present open cell until about July 2018.  We do not have a clearly defined date.

For any landfill to continue operation, water monitor wells—from 2-6 per landfill—must be drilled and meet regulations and continue to pull fresh samples to test as prescribed.  Testing could be $100.00 plus per well per month forever.  Both Eads and Haswell landfills have corrected the acceptance signage, paid for training for several landfill operations and continue working at the daily trash cover requirement. 

Kiowa County proposed to drill and pay for a water monitor well at Haswell landfill in August of 2017; however, when the county wrote to verify details with CDPHE, CDPHE informed the county they would not accept data, so county did not drill the well.  This was one critical requirement for a landfill to operate.  

CDPHE did request funding assistance from Colorado Legislature in 2017 and was awarded three (3) million dollars to drill water monitoring wells.  Commissioners were notified on May 9, 2018, during landfill closure process, that CDPHE did not plan to drill a water monitor well at the Haswell site since commissioners agreed September 1, 2017 to closure, based upon operational requirements of CDPHE. 

The commissioners composed and have sent a letter of complaint about this water monitor well at Haswell landfill to CDPHE and Joe Schieffelin, Manager, Solid Waste and Materials Management Program, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado 80246-1530, 303-692-3364, email; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Additional expenses, which the state has contracted, are to close the open cell at Haswell, haul in final cover soils, bring site to grade and reseed.

Haswell tree pit shall remain open for lawn clippings, non-painted/non-treated/non-stained/non-glued   lumber and tree trimmings.  Eads tree pit accepts these same materials.   All other accepted materials go into D&W dumpsters, recycling bins or are hauled to Eads Landfill. 

What happens at Eads Landfill?  State and CDPHE, through a contractor, plan to drill four (4) water monitor wells, do the required water testing for 5 years after, which the expense then becomes county expense at costs.  Repeating, present working cell can be used until it is filled; however, before we can open and begin the use of a new cell, it must be lined to meet CDPHE regulations.  Staff at both landfill sites must monitor all loads arriving for contents and require separation of mixed materials loads. 

Today, Eads accepts used tires, as a collection site, at no added cost.  Soon, the county must pay someone to haul these tires to another site.  Eads accepts e-waste, at no added fee, which we then ship to a recycling center in Swink and pay several thousand dollars per year from county general fund.  Waste metal is separated, piled and later hauled to a recycling center with income returned to county general fund. 

The county applied in 2017/2018 with CDPHE for a competitive grant for a trash compactor, storage building and new cardboard baler.  We did not receive this grant.   The plan, had we gained the grant, was to separate cardboard and bale, then store those materials in the shed until marketing.  The compactor was to compact the cell materials.

Why a trash compactor?   Why does Eads need one?  What does a compactor cost?   New trash compactors cost well into $300,000, and used 1994 units can be purchased for $175,000.  By using the compactor, we can compress more of the air from the materials, making smaller layer to cover in a smaller space, thus using less fill soil to meet the daily requirement of 6 inches cover end of each operational day for cell materials.  All this adds up to more space available for materials other than fill soil!  Without the compactor and using operational procedures as today, Eads landfill is expected to be full in about 2 years. With compactor use, it may be 10 years plus. 

Ultimately, once the present site is full, either another site must be purchased, developed and opened or all trash shall be hauled to some place that will accept the materials at whatever cost they charge.    The commissioners have asked about purchasing additional land near present site with a response, so far, of no.

There are no easy answers. Commissioners continue to battle CDPHE on these issues; however, we are not gaining ground, and we do not have the funds available to line cell or purchase a use landfill compactor. With costs continuing to increase and less available, it is only matter of how soon dumping and acceptance fees must be charged.  During all these discussions, the county has requested a moratorium on implementation with no relief from CDPHE.

Kiowa County Board of Commissioners
 
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