Building Waco’s Future: Landfill Planning

This information was developed following the Waco City Council’s decision to authorize a contract beginning the permitting process for the proposed landfill site at the August 2016 meeting.

Note: In February 2017, area residents expressed some concerns about the proposal. This page was updated at that time.  It was updated again after the March 7, 2017, council meeting.

Kyle Deaver Guest Editorial
Waco Tribune-Herald, July 16, 2017

Why is the City of Waco pursuing a new landfill?

  • The City’s Solid Waste Services Department has concluded that it needs to begin the process of building a new landfill due to the current landfill’s capacity having only about 8 years of life remaining. Without a new landfill, the City of Waco would have extreme operational challenges and costs.
  • Planning ahead is imperative in order to have an adequate site in full operation before the life runs out.
  • The item approved by the City Council on August 16, 2016 allowed the City to hire engineers and other necessary professionals for the permitting process at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
  • The City has taken numerous steps to extend the life of the current landfill including: compaction of waste to make the space last; implementing city-wide recycling and waste diversion practices; and initiating a request for proposals for innovative waste to energy projects to reduce the volume of waste.

About landfills in the United States & where our trash goes

  • Americans generate trash at an astonishing rate of 4.6 pounds (2.1 kilograms) per day per person, which translates to 251 million tons (228 million metric tons) per year [source: EPA].
  • This is almost twice as much trash per person as most other major countries.
  • In the U.S., some of our trash gets recycled or recovered and some is burned, but the majority is buried in landfills.

About our current landfill

  • The City of Waco operates a Type I Municipal Solid Waste landfill that receives approximately 288,000 tons of waste per year for disposal. (That's approximately 26,182 trash trucks per year.) The landfill is located at 11400 Old McGregor Road off Highway 84.
  • A full size ¾ or 1 ton pickup can hold 2-3 cubic yards of garbage, slightly rounded, weighing about 500 lbs.  That means the landfill accepts the equivalent of over 1 million pick-up truck loads per year!
  • More than 60% of our landfill is made up of waste from households and businesses.
  • Our landfill serves an 11 county region, is public and is open to any users, which is a State requirement.
  • More about our landfill...

Location: Is there a site under consideration now?

  • Yes. There is a proposed site. Staff reviewed available options and determined that there is a technically ideal parcel of land near the current landfill site. Its underlying geology— an outcropping of shale and clay—makes protecting groundwater simple and relatively cost effective.
  • This location, with frontage along FM 2837, allows for convenient access to haulers and residents.
  • If selected, the proposed 290-acre site, which is slightly larger than the current 237-acre site, will have a generous buffer that separates it from neighboring homes and businesses.
  • Any site should allow for a design that enables the City to properly manage its solid waste needs to allow for at least a 40-year life for its operations.
  • Any site selected will be permitted as a new landfill by TCEQ in full compliance with all TCEQ rules and regulations.
  • Once a new landfill site opens, the current landfill will be closed and will become available as a site for a future public park and trail system or another amenity for the community. This has been successfully accomplished in many other cities.

Why not consider a site further from town?

  • Alternative site review: while work continues on the proposed site, the Waco City Council has asked staff to review other options for the location of the new landfill and bring those back to council for consideration. The report will include: a technical assessment of each site, the comparative cost of acquisition, development, and operation, and potential rate impact.
  • Key site considerations include: size of site, suitable geologic formations that are protective of ground and surface water, environmental considerations, highway access, including load limits on roads and bridges, distance from Waco, other costs which will affect rates.

Is the recycling program helping the current landfill?

  • Curbside recycling and yard waste diversion for our residents has diverted an estimated 19,000 tons of solid waste annually from the current site allowing us to extend the usage of the current site by several years.
  • Many of our local businesses, schools, and industries have very active recycling programs as well.
  • Waco is also lucky to have several active recycling businesses.
  • Unfortunately, recycling alone will not avert the need for a landfill.

Do you expect concerns from the community?

  • Yes, the City has received a number of concerns as listed in the below-referenced presentation.
    Video: March 7, 2017 Council meeting presentation. Begins near 48:00 mark.
  • Area leadership and citizens of Waco have long been progressive thinkers in supporting initiatives that benefit the well-being of their communities.
  • We are committed to handling this process in a transparent and inclusive way.
  • There have been concerns about the Cottonbelt Trail being impacted by a new landfill. The proposed site will include a significant buffer from the Cottonbelt Trail. The Cottonbelt Trail, a $4.5 million joint undertaking funded by the federal government and the City of Waco (including Solid Waste funds) is a valuable city asset that will be preserved.
  • More about the Cottonbelt Trail...

What are the next steps in the process?

  • The Alternative Site Review will be considered by the City Council.
  • It will take approximately 2 years to submit the permit application to the State.
  • The entire permitting process will take roughly 4 to 5 years.
  • During the permitting process there will be ample opportunity for public engagement and comment.
  • We will be providing updates to the City Council as needed during the process.

Other Information

City of Waco Presentation, March 2, 2017
Neighborhood Association Meeting

Kyle Deaver Guest Editorial
Waco Tribune-Herald, July 16, 2017

Questions? Feel free to contact us here.