Glenwood looking to expand South Canyon Landfill |

Glenwood looking to expand South Canyon Landfill

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The City of Glenwood Springs has submitted an application to purchase approximately 80 acres of land to expand the existing South Canyon Landfill.

According to Glenwood City Manager Jeff Hecksel, the city has submitted an application to purchase the property, which is adjacent to the north of the current landfill, and is awaiting a response from the Bureau of Land Management on the transfer. Hecksel was uncertain of how long the transfer would take.

“The BLM has to go through their due diligence and review everything to make sure everything is in order,” Hecksel said.

The City Council authorized the application to be submitted at its April 15 meeting, under the Recreation and Public Purpose and Need Act of 1954. This act allows the sale or lease of public lands for recreational or public purposes to state and local governments or other qualified entities.

According to a feasibility study prepared by Western Land Group, a Denver-based company helping facilitate the exchange, lands acquired through the Recreation and Public Purpose Act by governmental entities for solid waste disposal purposes are purchased for $10 per acre. That is quite a deal for the city, Hecksel said.

“It’s a rate that is very beneficial to the public,” Hecksel said.

Hecksel added that his concern was what would happen if the city didn’t try to acquire the land.

“My concern is if we are unable to make this purchase because it has significant ramifications to the city,” Hecksel said.

According to a memo written by Glenwood Springs Public Works Director Robin Millyard in October 2009, the reason for the expansion is due to an overfill issue that wasn’t discovered until recently.

Millyard was not available for comment last week. However, the memo states, “the landfill is in an overfill condition, both laterally and vertically regarding the approved 1994 design and operation plan.”

A lateral overfill condition exists when refuse material is placed above the final grades of the approved design and operation plan, the memo states.

But the overfill situation is not the only reason to expand the landfill, according to Hecksel.

“Even without the overfill issue we would still need to expand the landfill for future use,” Hecksel said.

The land acquisition will also correct a couple more recently discovered issues. Millyard’s memo indicated that the city has been using BLM lands for years for dumping purposes. Another issue to correct is in regards to a run-on ditch that was constructed on BLM lands by the former operator in 1998.

The memo states that a 1994 design and operation plan “appears to have been misinterpreted in the field, which resulted in some refuse being placed outside the certificate of design boundary, as well as cover material being taken from BLM land.

“It would be a fair question to ask how and why material was placed incorrectly,” Millyard wrote in the memo to city officials. “I am not able to fully answer that question because I simply do not know.”

Information in the 1994 design and operation plan estimates that land filling operations at South Canyon occurred as early as the 1950s.

Over the years, the city has operated the landfill on separate occasions. It’s reportedly estimated that the city operated the landfill from the early 1950s to 1971, Garfield County operated the landfill from 1971 to 1980, and another operator referred to as TADCO operated the landfill from 1982 until April 1999. At that point, the city again resumed operations at the landfill until April 2009, when the role was contracted out to South Canyon Waste Systems, LLC.

The acquisition of the new property is a long-term solution addressing the existing problems, and will accommodate the city’s trash needs well into the future.

“Preliminary estimates indicate this expansion could provide an additional 25 to 30 years of life for the landfill over what is basically the existing landfill footprint,” Millyard wrote.