City plans to eliminate West Rifle compost piles this summer |

City plans to eliminate West Rifle compost piles this summer

Piles of compost and a screening machine at the closed West Rifle facility near the City of Rifle’s wastewater treatment plant. The city recently assumed responsibility to get rid of the compost, after CacaLoco owner Jim Duke’s operation of the compost piles led to numerous odor complaints from neighbors two years ago.
Mike McKibbin/The Citizen Telegram |

By the end of this summer, the remaining compost piles in West Rifle are planned to be removed, ending a saga that caused nearby residents and businesses to complain about odors from the facility two years ago.

Their opposition eventually led the city to issue a cease and desist order to contract operator CacaLoco.

At it’s May 7 meeting, Rifle City Council unanimously approved a facility closure agreement and bill of sale that calls for city crews to remove the compost material, either through the sale of the compost product or by relocating large items for disposal.

In 2010, the city entered into a lease with CacaLoco Enterprises owner Jim Duke to operate a compost facility on five acres of the city’s Energy Innovation Center property, next to the city’s regional wastewater reclamation facility.

CacaLoco built and operated a facility that processed and composted biosolids produced by the wastewater plant, provided a regional collection center for organic wastes, septage and paper and cardboard recycling, and sold the produced compost, City Attorney Jim Neu wrote in a memo to the council.

“Unfortunately, during the spring of 2012, CacaLoco accepted food wastes that created unbearable odors for the surrounding neighborhood as it composted,” Neu wrote.

The city and CacaLoco agreed to an amendment to the lease, effective Jan. 1, 2013, that spelled out the closure requirements of the facility and expiration of the lease on Oct. 31, 2013.

“That didn’t happen, so the city will take it over to finally close it out,” Neu said at the meeting.

Mayor Randy Winkler was concerned that resuming operations would result in more odor issues for area residents.

“I’m really concerned with those people out there,” he said. “They went through a lot that we don’t want to see happen again.”

Neu said public works crews know how to operate the facility and will be sensitive to weather and wind conditions if the compost piles are to be “turned.”

The agreement calls for the city to use CacaLoco’s screener, free of charge, to help finish the composting of the remaining materials. Large items will be taken to the Garfield County landfill, said City Manager Matt Sturgeon.

The work is anticipated to be completed this summer. The deadline in the agreement is Sept. 30.

Utilities Director Dick Deussen said in an email on Tuesday, May 13, that the city will continue to truck up to 400 tons a year of “dry,” or processed, biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant to a plant near Delta. That costs the city around $150,000 a year.

Last year, the city received a county Federal Mineral Lease District grant to match with city funds to develop a plan to handle the biosolids. Deussen said that plan recommended the city continue with the trucking option, rather than apply the treated material to agricultural lands, use any of several different outside and enclosed composting processes or a microwave system to dry the waste.

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