NEW LONDON — Work is finished on a $1 million addition to the Kandiyohi County Landfill that includes technology that will save time and money and provide the framework for the next generation of landfills.
Construction contractors, environmental consultants and county representatives met Wednesday afternoon at the landfill to sign off on the project documents that will be forwarded to the state Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for final approval.
The new cell is the seventh one to be completed in the Phase II construction, which includes liners and tanks to collect liquid runoff. It will likely open in a couple months after the current cell is completely filled.
The new cell, which was constructed by Duininck Inc., is expected to have enough garbage capacity for the next five years.
Terry Kaiser, an engineer with Environmental Concepts and Designs Inc., said the latest cell includes state-of-the-art equipment for environmental monitoring that makes Kandiyohi County “a leader in solid waste disposal activities to protect the environment with engineered controls that do not spew byproducts into the air from such methods as burners” and allows managers to observe leachate levels on landfill liners and in storage tanks through wireless systems on the Internet.
“It’s unlike any other facility in the state of Minnesota that I know of,” he said.
The system allows workers to see how much leachate, which is vile liquid that drains through the garbage, has been collected in the liners and storage tanks. The leachate is pumped periodically from the tanks and taken to water treatment facilities.
The information can be viewed on a computer screen in the scale station at the landfill or it can be accessed remotely through a cell phone.
Currently workers execute a “cumbersome procedure” of plugging in equipment, recording data and using a complex formula to calculate the level of leachate on the liners, said Kaiser.
The new system will “free up a lot of time for our employees,” said Kandiyohi County Environmental Services Director Jeff Bredberg.
The extra equipment added about $9,000 to the cost, which Kaiser said made it a cost-effective addition.
The county should be “commended for taking the effort to take this step” because it will make it easier to advance to the “next generation of landfills.”
Kaiser said pilot projects are under way on “bio-reactors” that pump leachate to the top of landfills so that the liquid can recirculate through the garbage again. The leachate helps decompose, shrink and compact garbage, which creates more space to extend the life of the landfill.
The process also uses up some leachate which means fewer gallons are hauled away and treated.
The downfall to bio-reactors is that a technician is required to be on site to operate the pumps to ensure that leachate does not flow out of the landfill area. So far that makes the process less financially attractive, but as advancements are made, it could become cost-effective.
When that does happen, the infrastructure Kandiyohi County has installed now will make the transition easier.