A perfect storm of problems has hit the Macon-Bibb landfills, but plans are underway to attack those issues, according to county leaders.
The closure of two landfills could cost the county upward of $11 million, so efforts to increase recycling has become more paramount in Macon-Bibb.
The county needs more residents recycling in order to delay the closing of the main landfill, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said Monday.
“We want to go with countywide recycling and for everyone to have the same (solid waste) services,” he said.
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The county wants to expand recycling opportunities inside the former Macon city limits, where just 2,000 households now have access to single-stream recycling, Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley said.
“What we want to do is eventually have some sort of recycling center, a compost site to reuse the material,” he said.
Recycling would alleviate the amount of waste at the main landfill on Walker Road, which had a 20 percent increase in tons of waste being added into it between the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. That landfill is now on track to be closed in slightly under four years and with a likely cost of at least $10 million, county officials said.
Various Macon-Bibb departments are working together to find a way to deal with the issues, including paying for the closures. One option may be to shut down the main landfill in various stages, which allows more time to pay for the project, Barkley said.
While closing a large landfill is a daunting task, it’s about finding an approach that fits Macon-Bibb, he said.
“A lot of this has been done in other communities,” Barkley said. “We don’t have to invent the wheel. We have to see what works for us.”
For about a month now, the county has stopped putting waste in its inert landfill after new regulations are forcing it to be shut down by February 2016. Since then bricks, concrete, asphalt and other items that went into that landfill are being placed into the main one. However, yard waste can’t be put in a solid waste landfill, so it’s now being taken to a recycling center while some other yard waste that’s mixed with garbage is going to the Wolf Creek landfill in Twiggs County.
“By diverting out waste now out to Wolf Creek, it gives me a significant drop in the tonnage at the Walker Road landfill,” Barkley said. “As the blight projects pick up and demolitions occur, we’ll have more room for that at Walker Road.”
Macon-Bibb will contact the Macon Water Authority to see if the authority has any reserves set aside for the inert landfill closure estimated to cost $1.1 million, County Manager Dale Walker wrote in a recent report to Macon-Bibb commissioners.
Five years ago, the water authority approved a deal to pay the city of Macon $7.6 million to help maintain the city’s levy and close its landfill.
One of the issues has been finding dirt to cover waste at both landfills. In August, some aid came from 500 truckloads of dirt donated by Mr. Chips Inc. That dirt was quickly used for daily cover and repairs, but a large shortage remains, Barkley said.
One of the violations that led to back-to-back failed inspections at the main landfill this year was a lack of dirt cover on some of the garbage.
Barkley said he’s optimistic the next inspection will result in a passing grade.
A letter from the state Environmental Protection Division last month cited significant progress at the 100-acre main landfill.
To contact writer, Stanley Dunlap call 744-4623.