landfills: Contractors Fill Outside Needs For Landfill Operators

Landfill operators continue to face many challenges: Current regulations and modern landfill design demands greater sophistication than ever. Simultaneously, landfill operators are under pressure to improve their efficiency and competitiveness. As a result, many are turning to private firms to design, construct and even operate specialized systems such as gas control, leachate treatment and remedial cleanup.

Design/build contracting can provide:

* The early establishment of a fixed-price budget. Combining the design and construction teams early in the project allows both parties to work together with the end product in mind. This way, cost and constructibility issues are addressed up front and incorporated into the final plans and specifications.

* Overall savings in cost and schedule. An abbreviated design phase and elimination of the traditional bid/award negotiate phases typically result in a stream-lined schedule, as well as associated cost savings.

* A sole point of responsibility for design and construction. Because of the sole-source accountability of the designer/builder, delivery of projects is inherently less litigious. This type of accountability also reduces contractor interface problems, jurisdictional disputes and delay claims.

Only consider design/construct services if the project's parameters are well defined. If the permitting process, for example, is likely to be lengthy or if concept changes might occur, then the need for clear project definition cannot be ensured, and costs may fluctuate. In this case, it is best for the client to obtain design services and then rebid when it is time to build.

When selecting a firm, managers must evaluate the company's experience, personnel and its comprehensive un-derstanding of the project. Moreover, if the contract includes several different firms, it is important to consider not only their individual experience, but also their experience in working together.

After a firm is chosen, evaluate project results and commitment levels. If both parties are satisfied, their other projects should be considered for the future.

"Design/construct project delivery is increasing in popularity, not only in the private sector, but with municipal clients as well," noted Dan Boone, a project manager for CDM Engineers & Constructors, a subsidiary of Camp Dresser & Mckee, Cambridge, Mass.

For example, a closed landfill located near homes in Milwaukee County, Wis., had a methane gas migration problem. The response was a fast-track approach from CDM. In less than four months, the company designed, permitted, built and implemented a gas collection and flare system to eliminate the off-site migration and contain and burn off the dangerous gas (see chart page 14).

"Design/construct is well-suited to fast-track, emergency situations such as the Milwaukee County landfill project, as well as ongoing landfill expansion and capital improvement projects," Boone said.

EL CENTRO, Calif. - Following a recent decision by Federal District Court Judge Rudi Brewster, Arid Operations - supervisor of the Mesquite Regional Landfill, a key component of California RailFill Systems, located 35 miles east of Brawley in Imperial County, Calif. - now can complete a land exchange with the Bureau of Land Manage-ment (BLM), El Centro, Calif.

Once again, the ruling denies the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund's appeal to block this exchange, previously upheld in November 1996 by the U.S. Department of Interior Board of Land Appeals.

The exchange lands are located in or near the Chuckwalla Bench Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Wilderness Area in Imperial County, and along a ridge line in the Santa Rosa Mountains Wilderness Area in Riverside County (see map).

BLM will receive roughly 2,640 acres of desert lands in return for approximately 1,745 acres previously disturbed by gold mining and gravel extraction. In addition, Gold Fields Mining Corp. - a participant in the RailFill project - will convey an additional 3,000 acres, bringing BLM's total to 5,600 acres of acquired land.

Now that the area is in private ownership, California RailFill reported, all requirements are in place for formal consideration of a landfill permit by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, Sacra-mento, Calif. Upon receipt of air quality and solid waste facility permits, the Mesquite landfill will open with a capacity of 600 million tons and a lifespan of 100 years.