Fires cause look at Carson City landfill trash disposal
September 12, 2018
Carson City Public Works is looking into new procedures for trash disposal at the city landfill after a series of fires.
On Saturday, another fire broke out at the landfill on Flint Drive, the fourth fire there this year. A fifth fire, the Rifle Range Fire in August started by target shooting, burned more than 200 acres close to the landfill.
"It's very unusual to have this many (fires). We are checking with other landfills to see if they are seeing increases too which would then point to disposal of inappropriate items," said Darren Schulz, director, Public Works. "This will likely lead to a change in operations, but don't know yet what that will look like."
The fires are still being investigated, but Schulz said batteries, likely larger batteries used in equipment such as power tools, may be the source.
As a result, Public Works is considering adding what's called a tipping pad, or concrete slab, somewhere on site but away from the actual landfill. Users of the landfill would dump their trash there and staff would then sort through it to remove any potentially combustible items. After that, the trash would be loaded onto a truck and taken to the landfill.
"We feel it's important to remove the public from the landfill area," said Schulz, a practice increasingly common at municipal dumps.
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But, the change if it happens is a ways off. The site has the space for a tipping pad, but it would have to be built. The landfill has loaders, but would need additional trucks.
And it's all happening in the midst of another big change. The city is developing a new waste management contract that will take effect in July 2019. At the same time, the city will be instituting mandatory trash pickup with an exemption — residents who use the landfill can continue to do so, but must routinely provide receipts to the waste management vendor in order to be exempted from service.
As a result, the city is expecting a drop in use of the landfill that would affect how any new procedures are implemented.
"We need some data. We'd like maybe a year of data," said Schulz.
The city last month received five submissions to its waste management request for proposal. A consultant is reviewing them and a city committee will rank the vendors, which is on schedule to be presented to the Board of Supervisors for its approval in November in order to award the contract by the end of year.
The RFP included bi-weekly, single-stream recycling; requested bulk waste disposal; green waste pickup; choice of animal-proof containers; and a requirement for a local customer service office in Carson City.
Public Works has other changes on its plate. In October, it plans to issue an RFP for a stormwater rate study that would be conducted in the first half of next year then go to the Utility Oversight Finance Committee (UFOC), and eventually to the supervisors, to implement a new rate structure.
"We are asking a consultant to go back to the methodology on how we charge. That's what we did for water and waste water," said Schulz.
Currently, residential and commercial customers pay varying flat rates and late last year the supervisors approved a 30 percent hike for all ratepayers in order to issue bonds in the meantime.
The department's major sewer project for the year just got underway and should be completed by year end.
The Clear Creek Avenue Sewer Project will extend a sewer main along Clear Creek Avenue, between Center Drive and Snyder Avenue, and then along Snyder south of Clear Creek, as well as remove a line that runs along Old Clear Creek.
"It's right next to the creek and you never want a sewer line right next to the creek," said Schulz.
The project contract, not to exceed $1.4 million, was awarded to V & C Construction, Inc., in June.
A second project to upgrade the sewer system on Airport Road, south from Highway 50 to Woodside Drive, is being considered.
Both fulfill rules put in place by the UFOC requiring Public Works to reinvest a certain percentage of rate revenue into rehabilitation work.
The rate study the department is commissioning will also review the water and sewer rates that were already redone and complete a five-year in phase in of those changes.
The water fund is underperforming, mainly due to a drop in usage.
"We anticipate they're going to say you put too much on usage and not enough on the base rate," said Schulz.
The water rate includes a flat base rate with a tiered-rate based on usage on top of that.
The department is also waiting on work by two consultants, one for water and the other on waste water, for growth planning purposes.
Currently, the city plans for growth based on population, looking at available water resources and determining an acceptable level of population growth based on that.
The new study will instead look at zoning and water demand by land use.
"It is one level down from population and more accurate data," said Schulz. "It's a report we can use for planning for the next 30 years."