Houston landfill wins national award

wcrenshaw@macon.comOctober 20, 2013 

HoCo_Landfill

Trash is compacted in the Houston County landfill. The facility recently received the Silver Excellence Award for landfill management.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

WARNER ROBINS -- Houston County Commissioner Tom McMichael says he loves to “talk trash” whenever he’s around commissioners from other counties.

That’s because of the pride he and other Houston leaders take in the county’s landfill, which for the second time has been named the second best in the country.

The Solid Waste Association of North America presented the county Tuesday with the Silver Excellence Award for landfill management. A regional landfill in Maryland won gold, and the Orange County, Calif., landfill won bronze. Houston County finished second in 2007 when Orange County won the gold.

The award is based on both the economic and environmental soundness of the operation. Houston County entered the national competition after being named the best landfill in Georgia by the same organization. The competition also included landfills in Canada.

“It’s a reflection of the employees and a lot of hard work for them over the years and their dedication,” said Terry Dietsch, the landfill superintendent. “They perceive the work they do at the landfill is unnoticed, but an award like that speaks volumes of the job they are doing.”

The landfill has 21 full-time employees, and they came to the County Commission meeting Tuesday to accept the award.

“We cannot take credit for this award,” commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker told the employees. “You people who have your feet on the ground out there each and every day. You have won this award.”

The landfill is located on 2,588 acres south of Kathleen. Its manicured, landscaped entrance has often been compared to that of a country club or a posh subdivision. The landfill was the first in the state to convert methane produced by the decomposing garbage into electricity, which is sold to Flint Energies. The system generates 3.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1,680 homes.

The landfill is also completely self-sufficient. All expenses are paid for by fees charged for each ton of garbage. The landfill even reimburses the county for administrative services performed, such as payroll.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the county approved the purchase of a new bulldozer for the landfill that will cost $440,614, to be paid for by the landfill. Stalnaker noted that the landfill is in such sound financial condition that it will be able to pay for the bulldozer up front without the use of a lease agreement.

The landfill also serves Pulaski, Bleckley and Dodge counties. The outside counties pay $2 more per ton, which Dietsch said helps keep the operation in good financial condition. Stalnaker also noted that the landfill has the funding set aside for post-closure costs, which he said is a claim that few other counties in the state can make.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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