Green River Star -

By Mark Westenskow
Public Works Director 

Notes from Town Square: Decisions help control costs

 


With the upcoming closure of the Green River City Landfill and the construction of the Transfer Station, many people are asking questions about how and why we are pursuing these actions, and what the city’s garbage system will look like in the future. We at the Public Works Department wanted to take this opportunity to let people know a little bit of the background on how the system has evolved in the last few years, and how the decisions that have been made related to the city’s garbage system have been intended to limit cost increases and ultimately save our residents money.

In the 1980s, the city of Green River acquired land intended to be used for a landfill for decades into the future. This landfill has served us well, but as the landfill has expanded, the ground upon which it is constructed has become rockier, increasing costs for excavation to expand. In fact, the rock had to be blasted out to allow the construction of the last new cell that opened. At the same time, environmental regulations for landfills in Wyoming have become tighter, further increasing the costs for expansion. To open a new cell, the city would not only have to blast to remove rock, but also install an engineered liner to protect groundwater under the landfill. Together, these issues have made expansion of our landfill cost-prohibitive. Several years ago, the city of Green River recognized these trends and began to explore options that would allow us to control these rising landfill expansion costs.

One of these options involved closing our landfill and exporting our garbage to a larger regional landfill that would be able to meet the tighter environmental requirements. The projected costs to export garbage to the nearby Solid Waste District No. 1 Landfill near Rock Springs were lower than the costs to expand our own landfill, so the city began to develop a plan to close our landfill and build a transfer station. A transfer station is a facility where garbage is temporarily deposited for consolidation and export to a landfill. Through a lot of hard work by city staff, the city was awarded a cease and transfer grant and loan from the state that will pay for much of the costs to close our landfill and build our new transfer station. While the last few years have seen significant garbage rate increases in the city, the decisions and actions that have been made have helped keep our garbage rate increases lower than what would have been necessary to expand our landfill.

One of the conditions of our grant is that the city will stop receiving waste at our landfill sometime in 2017. The fact is that we are about out of room at the landfill anyway, since the amount of waste we can deposit there is limited by our permit from the state. In order to save some landfill capacity for local residential use until the Transfer Station is complete, the city has recently implemented load size restrictions at the Green River Landfill. In September the city restricted landfill use by commercial garbage haulers. Many of the city’s collection trucks started using the Rock Springs Landfill at that time. More recently, the size of vehicles allowed to dump garbage at the Green River Landfill has been limited to a pick-up truck size or smaller.

Larger loads of green waste and recyclables are still welcome, but we are trying to preserve the limited garbage space we have left for residents to be able to bring in their items that don’t fit in their curbside cart. This will require that larger loads from projects and businesses will have to go to the Rock Springs Landfill where they will have to pay the tipping fee of $55/ton.

Since the city of Green River is not part of Solid Waste District No. 1, any of our waste going to their landfill in Rock Springs is subject to their out-of-district fees. As a waste exporting organization, it is becoming even more critical for the city of Green River to look for alternative and cheaper disposal methods, including composting and recycling. While recycling is not necessarily a money-making operation, it can provide a lower cost disposal alternative to landfilling for many materials. The city promotes recycling not only for the environmental benefits, but also the economic benefits to the entire garbage system.

By providing services, like recycling, that divert waste from the landfill at a lower cost, the city is working to keep residential trash collection rates under control. The city collects glass, cardboard, newsprint, mixed paper, aluminum cans, tin, and many types of plastic. Any material that the city can divert through recycling is tonnage that the city does not have to transfer and pay for as garbage.

Once the Transfer Station opens, you will also see some changes to our recycling system intended to streamline that side of our operation.

We share the concerns expressed by some residents that changes to the city garbage system will lead to more illegal dumping in our surrounding areas.

We hate seeing this kind of destructive behavior, but let’s be honest, our area has suffered from illegal dumping for years, even with easy and cheap access to the city landfill.

Illegal dumping is a choice and a crime, and changes to our garbage system will not “cause” more illegal dumping.

There will be a place for residents to dispose of their waste legally, either at the Landfill or the Transfer Station. There is no excuse for illegal dumping.

If you witness any illegal dumping, please call dispatch at 875-1400.

For more information, please see the city’s website for a list of frequently asked questions.

 

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