Landfill expansion project to begin later this month
Housing, construction boom in Pitkin County could shorten lifespan of 5-acre addition
The long-awaited expansion of the Pitkin County Landfill is expected to begin later this month and provide about six more years of life to the rapidly-filling facility, an official said Wednesday.
The nearly $2 million project will increase the size of the landfill by about 5 acres and the capacity by approximately 900,000 cubic yards, though the current construction boom in the upper Roaring Fork Valley could eat into that predicted six more years of space, said Cathy Hall, Pitkin County solid waste director.
“With all the people moving here and tearing down houses, I have a feeling (the lifespan) will be less,” Hall said. “It’s gonna be a big year.”
Construction and demolition debris, which makes up the majority of the deposits in the landfill, is already up 3% over 2019, she said. Comparisons to 2020 do not apply because of the pandemic.
“That is significant,” Hall said.
Not yet included in the totals is the complete demolition of two local hotels — the Molly Gibson Lodge and the Hotel Aspen — which has been approved and is almost guaranteed to significantly increase the debris deposited in the landfill.
Debris from the Sky Hotel – torn down in the summer of 2017 to make way for the W Hotel – took up 3,030 cubic yards of space in the facility, which was the equivalent of 3,000 people’s yearly trash output.
And that doesn’t count debris and contaminated mine tailings that will be thrown into the landfill from whatever happens at the base of Lift 1A, she said.
“It’s gonna keep rolling in,” Hall said.
State environmental health officials signed off on the north expansion of the landfill in February and the project was put out for bid not long after, she said. Pitkin County budgeted $2.2 million for it, though a construction company from Rifle bid just over $1.8 million for the project and that final contract is pending.
Hall said she expects construction to begin in mid-to-late June and be completed by October or November.
As the northern expansion begins, landfill officials plan to turn their attention to designing a much larger proposed expansion to the south, she said. That second expansion — which will involve much more engineering and construction than the current expansion — would expand the landfill’s capacity by 5.6 million cubic yards and extend the facility’s life by 30-to-40 more years, officials have said.
Pitkin County’s construction and demolition ordinance requires developers to put down a deposit of $1,000 per ton of estimated waste. If developers are able to divert 25% of that waste to recycling or other reusable streams, the deposit will be returned. Many, however, choose to simply pay the price in order to complete projects faster, Hall said.
As of 2019, waste diversion efforts at the landfill — which include industrial composting and recycling — kept 37% of waste out of the landfill, the second-highest rate in the state behind Boulder County. The county is also setting up a program to provide reusable materials for sale at the landfill, Hall said.
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State and local public health officials are actively monitoring for the presence of a new COVID-19 variant from South Africa, though it has not yet been found in Colorado or the U.S.