WILMINGTON — City officials presented a proposed expansion of the Wilmington landfill that would add a connecting cell and move westward from the current landfill.
Solid Waste Superintendent Braden Dunham agreed with Wilmington resident Stephen Sawzin’s succinct characterization of the proposed expansion.
“That’s just basically dumping next to the current dump,” Sawzin said, of the connecting landfill. “Then, you keep growing sideways.”
“And walk it out to the west, exactly,” Dunham said.
President of Council Randy Riley described the connector as a saddle connecting the two landfill cells.
Dunham said the city previously engineered the westward expansion but abandoned it in favor of the more cost-effective, vertical expansion, which is nearing capacity in 2021, according to Dunham.
In January, Dunham presented “worst-case numbers” in January to cap, monitor and close the current landfill and build a new landfill, but then discovered a cheaper plan.
“The new idea will allow the landfill to expand westward without capping and closing the old landfill,” by building a connecting landfill between the current and the proposed landfill, said Dunham.
That would keep it one unit and eliminate the $1.9 million closing costs and the $2.5 million, 30-year monitoring costs.
The connecting cell would cost $2 million, roughly, according to Dunham.
“That system entails lots of work that’s involved with the ultimate west expansion,” including infrastructure that increases the connector cell’s cost but decreases the second expansion’s costs.
“This new design will save the city approximately $4.4 million in closure costs, keeps the site open and the waste rates low for Wilmington residents and commercial businesses,” Dunham said.
Dunham believes rate increases are necessary to fund the expansion.
Currently, residents pay $14.85, businesses pay $9.61 per yard for collection and $17.22 for curbside collection and recycling users pay one penny per month.
Dunham proposed a residential rate of $17, a commercial rate of $13.61 per cubic yard for collection, $21.22 per cubic yard for curbside commercial collection, an increase of $2 per month for commercial dumpster rental and $1.50 per month for curbside recycling.
Wilmington resident Paul Hunter disputed Dunham’s estimation of useful life, saying an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency report projected the landfill’s life expectancy into 2024, based on fill rates from 2013.
Hunter said the city could bond the cost of closing the landfill without that bond being burdensome, and said the proposed rate increases could be used to pay for the costs of having local collections and commercial disposal.
“In my opinion, we have some time, if we quit dumping in there from out of county,” Hunter said. “My preference is, shut her down, cap it off, build a park and close it up.”
Solid waste committee chair Joe Spicer said expanding the landfill protects residents from commercial haulers, who might charge more, and retains local control so citizens can resolve trash issues with local employees and local council members.
Spicer said the city is considering the recycling fee increase and attempting to encourage more of it.
Sawzin said if the city begins to charge for recycling he will return his bin.
“I’m giving somebody free raw material,” he said. “If you start putting some dollars behind … I’ll take my plastics to a dumpster and recycle it that way.”
Dunham said the city doesn’t earn money anymore on recycling after the company that purchased it was acquired. Dunham said the markets for recycled materials have fallen.
Sawzin encouraged Dunham to find a way to monetize recycling, and Dunham said the department has discussed a sorting center as a possible investment to earn money.
In response to Wilmington resident Bill Limbacher’s question, Dunham said recycling could expand the landfill’s life if more recycling was done.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.