The Butler County Landfill continues to be a topic of much interest in the county.

The Butler County Landfill continues to be a topic of much interest in the county.

At the Butler County Commission meeting Tuesday morning, they held a work session to further discuss the concerns and details of the modification to the conditional use permit for the Butler County landfill.

The initial presentation, given by Public Works Director Darryl Lutz, began with a brief summary of the process of amending the permit to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

"This process to amend or modify started several years ago, at least as early as 2009," said Lutz. "Even before that, the discussion was carried through members of staff proposing the modifications to the original permit for the landfill."

He went on to further explain there was no reason to have the gap between the old and the new landfills. He said when they began looking for an opportunity to fill the gap they began to realize 10 years ago they could incorporate new covering technologies and the result would be a substantial savings.

After gaining as much information as needed, they came before the commission in May of 2010 with a request to do a study. After the study, a report was given outlining the results of modifying the footprint of the landfill with an increase of the six acre gap between the two landfills, increasing the vertical element and changing the final cover design.

"The basis for us doing this is our investment in the liner system," explained Lutz. "You’ve got this major investment already laid out. Going vertical is going on top of this liner, so there is no new investment that you have to put in to increase the capacity. You’re still covering the same 76 acres with this vertical increase."

He explained further if the landfill reaches its optimized capacity intake per day of waste, which is 160-200 tons per day, an expected eight to 10 years of life could possibly be added with the increase of those six acres. If the vertical expansion accompanies the increase in the footprint, the life of the landfill has the possibility to expand another 15 years.

"Those numbers are very conservative, especially considering all the expanded recycling and other things we’re doing," said Commissioner Jeff Masterson.

"Right now we’re under 200 tons per day," added Lutz. "The County Commission, as a resolution, basically set what we want our threshold to be, which is a maximum intake of 250 tons per day. It will fully optimize our facility."

Commissioner Ed Myers then voiced his concern over the height and its affect on the nearby citizens.

"The height has been a concern to some people," said Myers. "Now at some points you can see the trash over the trees. Is this something you’re going to begin immediately?"

"In order to go vertical you’ve got to have the footprint in place," answered Lutz. "It could be 40 to 50 years in the future."

The approval of the permit including the approval of filling the six acre gap between the landfills is growing increasingly more time sensitive.

"We have four of the cells (sections) of the landfill built with the liners on them," said Lutz. "We are currently building in 2B, but we really feel that we could best optimize in filling that valley first. We want to fill in this valley instead of moving to section 1C."

The most cost efficient and environmentally friendly way to dispose of the county's waste, which was commented on by the citizens present at earlier meetings was the next item addressed.

"There should be better things that we should be able to do with our trash, I know," said Lutz. "We’re driven by dollars because there is only so much we can spend. The most feasible option of the disposal of waste is by landfill. There's lots of different options that have been looked at by the planning process and we’re already doing what we think is the best thing to do. Thirty years from now we might find something different. We can downsize the cost by utilizing our footprint. You can go up a lot easier than you can go out."

"The solid waste commission recommends that we set aside one million dollars in the budget to the operation of this landfill," added Masterson. "Darryl was asked to make this landfill a self-sustaining organization. That is where the whole optimization discussion began. The cost of operating this landfill is huge and we need to make a decision that is best for all the citizens of Butler County."

"That has been the desire of this board to make this a self-sustaining operation," added Commissioner Dan Woydziak. "Most alternatives are not feasible cost wise and we are trying to provide on the site that we have."

With growing concerns of the vertical heights of the landfill becoming a problem for the surrounding neighbors, the question arose as to whether such a large increase in vertical height was going to be absolutely necessary.

"The 50-foot addition to height is optional," Lutz said. "It is a maximum limit. If the commission decides to use less of that limit, then the only thing affected will be the life of the landfill. It will not optimize our usage."

Myers agreed they could cap it earlier.

"I would prefer to go like Ed said and go with a lower amount of trash," said neighbor Vickie Schwemmer. "I want to know how much trash we’re getting from Marion County."

"Essentially we’re paying the same overhead whether we’re receiving 130 tons or 230 tons," said Lutz. "The other aspect is to improve the soil to trash ratio. We could probably open our gates right now and find 200 ton per day, but we’re looking at protecting our citizens and fulfilling our models."

Following some specific questions about the optimized intake rate of the landfill, Lutz took the time to further explain how the optimization of the landfill would affect its overall makeup. He said they've been marketing the landfill to some sources outside Butler County in order to achieve the optimal intake rate.

"We have never achieved the optimal waste rims," explained Lutz. "What we’ve discovered is that we’re essentially entombing everything in dirt. Whether it's 60 tons per day or 250 tons per day. We’re using a much higher ratio of dirt to trash. If you want to produce gas to market, you have to optimize your landfill. In conjunction we also banned the green waste from our landfill. We found out in the end that we need that biological material. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot over the years good or bad but we’re trying to grow to that optimal intake to utilize what we have."

Overall, the cost of the various changes and improvements to the landfill has been a cause for concern. With the addition of the berms, internal roads, paving projects and possible addition of hauling the dirt if another source of soil was drawing concern from all of the commissioners.

The issue will be discussed further at the Commissioner's meeting next Tuesday morning.