City of Glenwood to take over South Canyon Landfill operations |

Glenwood Springs mobilizing to take over South Canyon Landfill

In this November file photo, a steady stream of traffic flows in and out of the South Canyon Landfill west of Glenwood Springs.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent

With next year’s deadline to take over the South Canyon Landfill operation looming, Glenwood Springs City Council has directed city staff to acquire the necessary equipment as well as prepare a formal business plan for the undertaking.

Once the current contract with Heartland Environmental Services, LLC to run the landfill expires on March 31, 2019, the city will take over the day-to-day operations at the city-owned facility.

Currently, the city pays Heartland a base of $1.98 million per year, with additional expenses for crushing concrete, managing liquids, and generating compost.

Following council’s 5-1 decision on Nov. 1 to internalize the operation, city staff, at council’s direction, has been mobilizing. That decision was based heavily on consulting firm Blue Ridge Services’ analysis and financial model which strongly recommended the city let the management contract expire and take over the operation.

At the Dec. 6 City Council meeting, council directed staff to purchase a compactor and excavator as well as lease a dozer and wheeled loader. Collectively, the four pieces of equipment carry a price tag of $1.15 million.

“The city will be transferring a tandem dump truck and water truck to the landfill from the streets department for the depreciated cost of the two pieces of equipment,” Glenwood Springs City Manager Debra Figueroa said in an interview.

The other necessary equipment to facilitate the South Canyon Landfill operation will need to be ordered, she said.

Upon council’s decision to bring the landfill operation in-house, numerous local business owners expressed their concerns over the city possibly discontinuing composting based upon Blue Ridge’s assessment that it was losing money.

“You are the only facility between Denver and Delta that takes [restaurant] grease and car wash [waste water] at this time,” one area business owner pointed out to councilors at a city council meeting.

Regarding the composting operation, however, Figueroa said the city had multiple options it is currently pursuing, both in-house and through public private partnerships.

“The city will evaluate each option and make the best decision financially, but with a larger consideration of the needs of local businesses that rely on the services of the South Canyon Landfill being part of that decision,” she said.

Additionally, Councilor Jim Ingraham said in a previous interview that the ability for the landfill to still accept grease, car wash and septic waste was a “top priority,” in his mind.

Questions were also raised whether or not the city had the knowledge and resources necessary to take the operation back in-house given its previous track record of running the landfill.

As previously reported, correspondence between city council and Heartland Environmental Services pointed out seven “serious issues” Heartland owner Larry Giroux’s company had to clean up following the city’s previous tenure operating the landfill.

Those issues included the site being 85 feet over its permitted height, as well as buried waste on neighboring Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, among other concerns.

“Current staff has many years of landfill experience,” Figueroa explained. “On-site staff has over 20 years of equipment and operations experience with landfill enterprises.”

New staff and equipment operators will also complete necessary training with Blue Ridge Services, according to Figueroa.

“Staff is working on [a formal business plan] now, but several decisions such as composting need to be made prior to a formal, final plan being presented,” Figueroa said. “The current schedule is to have this completed by Jan. 31, 2019 at the latest.”

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