Landfill construction projects planned

City of Brookings photo: Todd Langland

New cell, citizens campus on the way at Brookings Regional Landfill

BROOKINGS – Construction of a new $1.8 million cell and making some portions of the Brookings Regional Landfill more accessible to residents are in the works at the facility.

The Brookings City Council heard about conditions at the landfill and planned construction projects during its study session Tuesday.

Todd Langland, director of solid waste, and Luke Rodig of Burns & McDonnell gave the presentations.

Landfill construction

Rodig explained the layout of the Brookings Regional Landfill, which has “cells.” Those cells divide the landfill into areas according to the material that’s located there, such as wood, compost, appliances, sludge or other.

The construction is planned for the Area 3W cell, which is located on the western side of the landfill, and Area 1, which takes up most of the northern edge, Rodig said. 

Area 3W is a 5.5-acre disposal cell, and there is more than 150,000 cubic yards of soil excavation required and a new leachate collection sump included, Rodig said.

The Area 1 project is 7.5 acres and there is about 50,000 cubic yards of soil that’s to be placed, he said.

“One thing to note for this is, we’re already excavating a large amount of soil for the cell construction project, so they’re excavating and hauling; there’s a lot of efficiency and cost-saving to lump in this closure project with the cell construction project, since the contractors are already onsite moving soil,” Rodig said. 

Miscellaneous construction items are access roads, stormwater ponds, diversion berms and culverts, and a gravel pad constructed over the existing sludge dewatering beds, “which will be the future citizens campus,” he said.

Rodig said they advertised for bids on Jan. 9 and had the pre-bid meeting Jan. 21. The bids are due Feb. 4. Construction will start April or May, depending on the weather. The completion date is set for Sept. 4. The estimated costs are $1.8 million.

Rodig explained the steps of construction to the council, excavation, constructing the 3-foot clay liner and testing, leachate collection construction and closure construction.

Leachate collection is for any liquid that is generated from the waste or stormwater that needs to be managed as leachate and collected, Rodig said. It is then pumped out. 

Area 3W cell construction will provide capacity for continued economical and environmentally sound disposal of municipal solid waste. The liner and leachate collection system protects the groundwater from contamination, Rodig said.

Area 1 final cover will prevent stormwater infiltration, thereby reducing leachate generation and provides litter, pest and odor control, Rodig said. 

“Landfills are heavily regulated, and they’re engineered and designed for ultimately the protection of human health and the environment,” Rodig said.

Citizens campus

What a new citizens campus will do “is give our residents access to part of the landfill,” Langland said, including the compost area, tree piles, clean wood, and the screened compost. “We do have a lot of that material used by people, especially in the spring time.”

The sludge dewatering area is used by the Wastewater Department, so they need access and will maintain it, Langland said. 

They’ve been trying to get the citizens campus project completed, but last year with all the rain, it was impossible, Langland said.

“It will be done this year, I promise,” he said to a round of laughter. He’s hoping to get it done by July. “The weather will dictate a lot of it.”

They will set out some 8-yard dumpsters so people can put trash or recycling in them, Langland said. 

“The idea is to have it open from May to … first of November,” he said. 

“I think as a whole, our community will enjoy this once we get it open,” Langland said. “It’s another step in our sustainability.”

Councilor comments

Councilor Patty Bacon said people have contacted her about having yard waste dumpsters. Langland confirmed there will be yard waste dumpsters. Bacon mentioned residents will now have three dumpsters for waste, but at least the yard bags will be eliminated. 

She has heard farmers will take the sludge, but there’s not always enough.

It’s placed in a building and usually in the fall, farmers will haul it out in the fields for fertilizer, Langland said.

Bacon asked what the landfill’s projected lifespan is.

The planned construction will influence those numbers, Langland said.

“Right now, the main area is 60 acres,” he said. “That projection is out to the year 2070.”

There’s another 27 permitted acres north of the landfill which give another 30 years, Langland said.

Councilor Holly Tilton Byrne asked if other communities in the state have citizens campuses.

Rapid City has had one for about 30 years, and Sioux Falls has a version of it, Langland said. It’s for miscellaneous waste, garbage from cleaning out the garage, some recycling bins, that type of thing, Rodig said.

Rapid City has different locations around the community and had to close one last year due to abuse, Langland said. 

He hopes people will bring their refuse to the landfill; even if it gets dumped in the wrong area, they can take care of it, but he doesn’t want to see it dumped in a ditch. They see less of that now than they did in the past, he added.

“We recycle a lot here in Brookings. And without that recycling, we’d have a whole lot more trash in the landfill, which means we’d probably be doing this project a lot sooner,” City Manager Paul Briseno said. “At the end of the day, it saves taxpayers more money.”

“We’ve also set aside $2 million for the project, so we do not have to increase rates for it,” Briseno said, adding the city has been planning for this for multiple years. 

He asked Langland what the extended hours might be.

It has been an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. operation, but the citizens campus will change that, Langland said. 

“I think we’ll see a big usage on the weekends,” he said, so there could be open hours on Saturdays, extending into the afternoons.

Bacon noted some people can fill 20 or 30 bags with yard waste in the fall and asked how that amount of volume will be dealt with.

Many people haul their leaves out to the landfill in the fall, Langland said. 

The city now has a vac truck to pick up leaves. He thinks in the future, residents will be asked to rake leaves to the curb and the truck will come by and vacuum them up. 

“With our growing community, we’d have to add at least one more truck, maybe two in the future,” Langland said.

When he started in 1993, the landfill took in 30,000 tons of material annually.

“In the last few years, we’re right at 68,000 (tons), so that tells you how much it’s grown,” he said. “And we have good recycling numbers, too.”

Councilor Ope Niemeyer asked what they do with the leachate waste.

“Right now, we’re permitted to pump it out and just filter it back over the existing garbage … it’s usually like a dead area,” Langland said. 

“Right now, we pump about 1.3 million gallons a year. You pump a lot more when you have a wetter year,” he said.

Most landfills are running the leachate through the wastewater plant, he added.

Niemeyer asked if the city has a plan to access methane in the future.

Methane gas is regulated by the EPA, Langland said. Right now, there are three levels and Brookings is at level 2 and required to test every 10 years to see where the methane levels are, and the test is due this year. Groundwater is also tested for methane, he said. 

If the landfill is not generating a lot of methane, the city will be allowed to burn it off.

“If we can generate enough, there’s an opportunity to sell that methane gas like Sioux Falls does,” Langland said. There’s a gas line nearby that goes to the ethanol plant in Aurora, so the opportunity is there, he said.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]

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