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Changes ahead for Newton's landfills
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The Multi-Jurisdictional Solid Waste Management Plan, recently approved by the Newton County Board of Commissioners, includes future plans for an expansion of the county's landfill and the possible franchiseing of curb-side trash pickup.

According to the revised plan, at some point in the future lined municipal solid waste landfills and unlined construction demolition waste landfills will all be consolidated into lined landfills which are much better for the environment.

The consolidation will also increase the total reserve airspace at the Lower River Municipal Solid Waste Landfill where all of the county's solid waste is sent and where the county's central recycling processing center is located.

Since 1998 all municipal solid waste has been placed into a lined landfill at the Lower River Landfill. Since 2007 all waste, including construction demolition waste, has been placed in a lined landfill.

 Permit modification requests to the Environmental Protection Division are pending for the expansion project which would require the relocation of the recycling processing facility to a 65 acre tract immediately to the west of the landfill. The expansion project would also require the relocation of all solid waste historically placed without a liner system to space with a liner system.

"I think it's going to be a lengthy process from talking to our engineers," said County Executive Officer John Middleton of plans to shift solid waste from one landfill to another. "The section that they're talking about mining out is the area where we do have some methane and the flares that burn off. We're just looking to relocate that."

Middleton said a time frame for the project had not been set.

"[The landfill is] going to go from 10 years of life right now to probably 30 plus years," said the county's solid waste manager, James Peters.

The Lower River landfill currently has a life span of approximately 12 years for municipal waste and over 30 years for refuse. According to the solid waste management plan, the landfill site currently occupies 217 acres of which 88 are permitted for disposal. Of those 88 acres, 14 have been used without a liner system for municipal solid waste and 37 are currently used with a liner system.

According to the revised solid waste plan, the BOC plans to explore the possibility of implementing standards for garbage collection companies operating within the county.

"The plan is to look at the possibility of putting some standards in place that those independent haulers today need to comply with to be eligible to pickup," Middleton said, adding the county likely would not be implementing any standards program this year.

Middleton said the profusion of trash haulers in some subdivisions who offer trash pickup on different days of the week has led to confusion among residents who aren't sure when they should be leaving their trash out for pickup.

"From time to time we do get calls concerned about the quality of service that's being performed by these independent haulers that we've contracted with," Middleton said. "Some of these haulers are not licensed in Newton County. They're just independent haulers that people independently contract with."

The county's solid waste management plan had previously been approved in 1993. Since then it has been updated in five year intervals. A comprehensive revision of the plan was prepared according to the guidelines of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Despite not achieving a 25 percent reduction in the per capita generation of solid waste compared to that generated in fiscal year1992, as was the goal when the plan was originally approved in 1993, the county did experience a slight decrease in its per capita waste compared to that of the state which has seen its solid waste production steadily increase over the years.

In 1992 the average waste generated per person on a daily basis in the county was 5.4 pounds. In 2007 the amount fell slightly to 5.29 pounds a day.

Middleton said the work done by Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful and Peters in educating residents in the county about recycling has been especially helpful in reducing the county's per capita waste.

"They're the ones that pulled everyone together," Middleton said.

Among the recycling programs recently implemented by KCNB are an electronics recycling program and a paint, pesticides and other household hazardous materials recycling program. Once a month these materials are accepted for recycling at the Lower River landfill.

In 2007 Newton County residents generated 94,547 tons of solid waste and recycled 6.8 million pounds of solid waste.