Cities approve first phase of landfill siting project

December 20, 2018 GMT

SCOTTSBLUFF — It took some time for Scottsbluff and Gering to work out the details, but the cities have contracted with an environmental engineering consulting firm to begin the process to site a new landfill.

The agreement, dated Oct. 1, is with Laramie, Wyoming-based Trihydro Corp. to identify a potential site for a new landfill.

The first phase of assessing potential sites was considered by the Scottsbluff City Council in July, but members split over whether to accept the Trihydro proposal. Council members voted their approval in September.

The consultants will now identify up to five candidate sites within a 45-mile radius of the Scottsbluff/Gering area for consideration. The $264,512 cost for phase one will come from the sinking fund both cities established to pay for siting a new landfill.

“Topography and water are big issues in a potential site,” said Scottsbluff City Manager Nathan Johnson. “Proximity to residents will also need to be considered because this is a very touchy subject. We’re trying to do our due diligence in looking at all the pieces.”

If both councils later approve the design and permitting phases, the total cost of the Trihydro project could be in the range of $880,000.

According to the cities’ Western Nebraska Regional Landfill website, wnrlf.com, the municipalities want to be proactive in starting the process now, even though the current landfill in Gering is expected to remain in operation for at least another five years.

However long the project takes, both Scottsbluff and Gering have emphasized they want a site that will have minimal impact on the environment, on groundwater and even on proximity to neighbors.

According to their website, the purpose of bringing in a engineering consultant is to help guide the cities through the process of identifying potential locations that would be both cost effective and protective of human health and the environment.

“Solid waste management services are an essential community service,” the website stated. “The cities believe it is important to look at potential avenues to maintain that service under local control as they plan for the future.”

Several sites near Bald Peak, about 6 miles south of Morrill, had previously been considered. Several decades ago, Scotts Bluff County had investigated the area as a possible regional landfill site.

Trihydro’s original proposal from July stated: “The focus of these potential sites has already given rise to local community concerns from residents of the Village of Morrill and from the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District. These concerns ultimately resulted in some of the sites being dismissed from further consideration.”

Another possible option could be contracting with a private waste disposal firm for disposal once the solid waste has been collected from residents and transported to the Gering landfill.

Scottsbluff council members authorized the city to collect cost data from area waste disposal companies and what services they could offer.

“We got two bids back from private companies and those will be reviewed at the Jan. 7 council meeting,” Johnson said. “We also need more information from Trihydro so council members can make their decision based on facts.”