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Authority approves $4.6M bid to create more Newton County landfill space

COVINGTON, Ga. — The board that operates the Newton County landfill has approved a bid from a familiar source to create more space and extend its life.

The Newton County Solid Waste Management Authority voted to accept a $4.6 million bid from Peed Brothers Inc. to add a new cell to the landfill on Lower River Road south of Porterdale.

A landfill “cell” is an area designed with extra features such as a rubber lining to stop water runoff from polluting the surrounding environment.

The new cell will add about 740,000 cubic yards of volume and almost seven years of additional life to the landfill, officials have said.

County Solid Waste Manager Kevin Walter told Authority members Jan. 21 they will be asked to approve a contract with Peed Brothers at their February meeting — after which they can proceed with construction if approved.

The Authority will use a $3 million loan it received from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) in 2020 for part of the funding for the new cell. 

It will pay back the loan — which has a 1.44% interest rate — from user fees, officials said in June. 

Authority members also must consider if they want to borrow the remaining $1.62 million from GEFA or use money from cash reserves for the balance, said Curtis Reynolds of Harbin Engineering.

Walter told the Authority the staff may recommend seeking an additional GEFA loan for the remainder because it likely will include a relatively low interest rate. The department is working to build up its cash reserves, he said.

Past news reports stated the Newton County landfill often ran at a deficit in recent years and the county government was forced to spend money from its General Fund to keep it operating before the Authority began overseeing it.

Peed Brothers, based in Butler, Georgia, already is doing work to move garbage from an older part of the landfill that does not have a rubber lining installed, to a lined area of the Lower River Road landfill.

A lining will then be installed in the older part by 2022 when the newer part is expected to be at capacity, officials said.

Rubber linings around the bases of new landfills stop wastewater from running off and polluting lakes, rivers and groundwater.

Operators in many areas of the U.S. in the past routinely allowed their landfills to pollute nearby water sources with water runoff, or burned garbage to create serious air pollution. 

The federal government began enforcing more stringent environmental standards in the later decades of the 20th century and imposed hefty fines on operators for violating them.

In other action at the Jan. 21 meeting, the Authority voted to delay action on a request by Walter for using about $833,000 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues to buy a tracked shredder for the landfill.

The machine can be used to extend the life of the landfill by shredding mattresses, furniture, tires and yard waste to reduce the amount of space needed for them, Walter said.

However, some Authority members said they wanted to see if alternatives were available because it could be prone to maintenance problems and the benefits may not be worth the cost.

The Authority also voted to elect Kent Campbell its 2021 chairman and County Commissioner Ronnie Cowan its vice chairman.