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State loan to pay for Landfill storage cell
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Construction for the expansion of the Newton County landfill is expected to begin within the next month, as the county seeks to add enough capacity to last for the next decade.

In April, the Newton County Board of Commissioners approved a $3.57 million bid from Glover Construction Company for the construction of a third solid waste cell at the Lower River Road landfill.

In order to pay for the expansion, the county applied for a low-interest loan from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority. On Tuesday, GEFA announced Newton County had received a 20-year, $3 million loan for 2010 at a 3.81 percent interest rate. The county is also eligible to receive an additional $1
million in 2011.

The cost will eventually be taken out of the solid waste, a county enterprise fund that was set up in July 2000 to enable for expansion and improvement to the county’s solid waste facilities. Administrative Assistant John Middleton said construction is expected to be completed in early 2011.

According to the county’s 2008 update of its solid waste plan, the 13.7-acre, third cell will be able to hold 1,552,919 cubic yards of waste. As of April 1, 2008, only 258,000 cubic yards of capacity remained available at the landfill.

According to the plan, the landfill takes in an average of 250 tons of solid waste per day. The landfill site is a 217-acre property, of which 88.1 acres are currently permitted to receive solid waste.

Landfill Manager James Peters said the third phase will built in the 88.1 acre area, on top of and next to the existing cell. He said the phase 1 is like a hill; phase 2 is like a wider hill placed on top of phase 1; and phase 3 will be built in the same fashion.

Of those 88.1 acres currently permitted, about 51.3 are used for municipal solid waste, the majority of residential wastes. As of 2008, 14.2 acres of the landfill was not lined, because the waste was placed there prior to the law requiring landfills to have lined bottoms, and 37.1 acres of landfill was lined. Newton County is currently waiting on approval from Georgia Environmental Protection Division to mine this waste and move it to a lined area.

The remaining 36.8 acres are permitted for dry refuse, which includes construction demolition waste; 11.7 acres are currently used. The landfill also has sites for organic material, recyclable metals and residential wastes.

Peters said the county’s application with the EPD is also asking for permission to expand beyond the 88.1 acres of permitted land. This would allow the county to eventually expand to a 4th and 5th phase. This expansion would be expected to increase the landfill’s life expectancy from 12 yeas to 30 years.

The application also asks for permission to move the recycling processing center to the 65-acre parcel of land immediately west of the current landfill.

As new construction slowed, so has the influx of solid waste. Peters said the county is expecting to collect about 59,000 tons of solid waste this year, while in 2006, the first year he started working at the landfill, the county collected between 85,000 and 95,000 tons of solid waste, much of which was construction demolition materials.

According to the solid waste plan, in 1992 the average waste generated per person per day in the county was 5.4 pounds; a total of 42.977 tons of solid waste was collected. In 2007, the amount was down to 5.29 pounds a day and residents generated 94,547 tons of solid waste and recycled 6.8 million pounds of solid waste. Recyclables are sorted by inmates, according to the plan.

During the same time, the per capita use in the state increased from 5.66 pounds per person per day in FY1994 to 7.39 in FY2004. The plan credits the recycling efforts of the county and Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful for helping the county beat the state average. About 61 percent of waste is created by business and industries and 25 percent residential. The rest is yard waste, hazardous materials and other types of waste.

The landfill currently accepts no waste from outside the county, but Commissioners J.C. Henderson and Earnest Simmons both asked about the possibility of privatizing the landfill during the county’s recent budget discussions. They believed the landfill could be sold for tens of millions of dollars. Commissioner Mort Ewing is among those opposed to a sale, because they don’t want to become the landfill for other counties.

The design and operational plan for the landfill was approved by the EPD in August 1989, Middleton said in an e-mail. The first landfill site stopped receiving waste in May 1998 and was capped for closure later that summer. The first cell of the current Subtitle D landfill was opened in May 1998. The most recent cell expansion was a SPLOST 2005 project that was completed in 2005, he said.

• In other county news, the Georgia Forestry Commission increased its price for forestland assessment for wildfire protection from 4 cents per acre to 10 cents per acre for privately held forest land.

Michael Sapp, chief ranger of GFC’s 4th district that contains DeKalb, Henry, Newton and Rockdale counties, said the GFC has had significant cuts statewide and they will have more if they can’t pass the increase on to the counties. He said the increase for fire protection was the first since 1967.

The BOC unanimously approved a contract reflecting the increased costs for FY2011. District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing said he supported the partnership with the GFC, especially since 54 percent of the county remains covered by forest. Chairman Kathy Morgan said the $6,813 cost was budgeted in the general fund.