landfills: One Man's Closure is Another Man's Cash

Landfill closure and capping can be expensive for any community. But, by reusing the land, communities can create beneficial and even revenue-generating resources such as golf courses, parks and improved solid waste facilities.

In Massachusetts, for example, many closed landfills have been transformed into useful sites.

In 1990, the town of Yarmouth, nestled in the heart of Cape Cod, Mass., was required to close its 57-acre municipal solid waste landfill, which has been operating since the early 1950s. Capping was necessary to protect the town's water supply and prevent groundwater contamination.

Following a one-year study, the town, assisted by Cambridge, Mass.-based Camp Dresser and McKee (CDM), determined that a multi-faceted reuse plan would benefit area residents and generate much-needed revenue. The plan included:

* a nine-hole expansion to the town's existing 18-hole Bayberry Hills golf course, located adjacent to the landfill site;

* improved solid waste facilities for waste disposal;

* a regional bikeway connection; and

* a park.

As the project got underway, Yarmouth realized that it would have to manufacture topsoil to cover the capped landfill, since the town lacked quality topsoil and importation costs were high. It created the cover by combining a biosolids mix, composted yard waste and naturally available sand and, in the process, saved almost $1 million.

The town also needed an alternative irrigation source to water the expanded golf course. Fortunately, the Yarmouth/Dennis septage facility, located adjacent to the landfill, produces a high quality effluent which the town could use in the golf course's spray irrigation system. The system, the first planned effluent reuse project in Massachusetts, will save town resources and provide 45 percent of the course's necessary nutrients.

To accommodate town waste disposal needs once the landfill was closed and be compatible with the new park and golf course, the project team designed a new combined residential waste drop and recycling facility, as well as a construction/demolition waste-transfer station.

The public was kept informed throughout the process. Meetings and newsletters were used to update residents on the project's progress and costs.

Capping the remaining landfill area was completed in December, 1997. The golf course and park areas will be ready by the summer of 1999.

Three more Massachusetts cities - Boston, Newton and Reading - are finding beneficial uses for their closed landfills, as well. Boston is creating much-needed open space as a CDM project team designs the closure and reuse of their 80-acre landfill.

The site will include 25 acres of multiple-use sports fields, parking for 350 vehicles, a restroom/concession building, natural slopes, 2.5 miles of walking/jogging/biking pathways, a boat launch and fishing area, an amphitheater, a sledding area, plantings, picnic areas and scenic overlooks. The first phase of the project is under construction, with completion scheduled for the fall of 1999.

CDM's plan for the city of Newton allows the Department of Public Works to continue to operate on top of the landfill cap, where they will compost leaves and yardwaste and stockpile crushed stone, asphalt and gravel. The city also will add a recycling drop-off center at the site.

And, finally, for its 35-acre landfill, the town of Reading intends to reuse the site as an executive office park or similar development. The site will include up to 1 million square feet of office space in multi-story buildings, access roads and parking, landscaping and utilities.

Contract The city of New Orleans has contracted with Rust Environmental & Infrastructure, Greenville, S.C., to perform construction quality assurance and related design services for the $5 million closure of its Gentilly Landfill. Additionally, the Orange County Integrated Waste Management Department selected Rust to prepare final designs and provide construction quality assurance for a $1.5 million, four-year expansion project at a landfill in Brea, Calif.

New Company Environmental Resources Management, Exton, Pa., has formed Eventures, L.L.C., to specialize in environmental remediation and redevelopment of brownfields properties.