Landfill operator pitches merits of taking over GarCo landfill
A private landfill operator that already runs two government-owned landfills in the Roaring Fork Valley says it could operate the West Garfield County Landfill near Rifle for an extra 60 years beyond its current estimated 27-year lifespan and bring in an extra $100 million in revenue during that time.
Garfield County commissioners Thursday heard from the lone private contractor that responded to the county’s request earlier this year for information from companies interested in running the county-owned and -operated landfill.
“We do bring a lot of expertise, and have a track record in this valley of being able to do this,” said Larry Giroux, chief operating officer for Heartland Environmental Services, which now runs the city of Glenwood Springs’ South Canyon Landfill as well as the Pitkin County Landfill.
“We have been in business a long time, and feel we would benefit the county substantially,” he said, suggesting either a public-private partnership or a long-term lease arrangement to take over Garfield County’s landfill operation.
In Pitkin County, he said Heartland has been successful in adding another 35 years to the landfill since it began operating that facility in 1999. Otherwise, Pitkin’s landfill had been projected to shut down two years ago.
Heartland also just inked a five-year extension on its lease with the city of Glenwood to operate the South Canyon Landfill, which it has been doing since 2009.
By increasing compaction at the West Garfield facility, adding the ability to take sludge waste from the oil and gas industry and increasing marketing to producers of septic waste, the facility could see an even greater lifespan and more revenue, Giroux said.
Commissioners also heard from county staff regarding the merits of sticking with a county-operated facility under a recently adopted long-range solid waste management plan.
Many of the same efficiency and expanded marketing efforts are also recommended and are being carried out under that plan, said Betsy Suerth, director of public works and facilities for the county.
“We believe that the best way to retain and balance the goals of natural sustainability and best services to the public and your constituents is through public ownership,” Suerth said.
The facility has not had any regulatory compliance issues and the master plan will address the long-term needs of the landfill operation, she said.
County Manager Andrew Gorgey also noted that the landfill had it highest revenue month in October, and said it would be premature for the county to seek a formal request for proposals to contract out for a landfill operator.
Commissioners sought the information from private operators this summer after suggesting that the long-range plan did not adequately explore the option of handing landfill operations over to a private contractor. No decisions were made at the Thursday work session.
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