The following are questions gathered from the community in meetings, on social media and in conversations. We are happy to respond to any other questions about this process, and in addition, there will be public meetings going forward to further address any concerns.
About our current landfill (Permit #948A, 11400 Old McGregor Road)
The City of Waco landfill has been located off Highway 84 for decades. Ownership was transferred to the City of Waco in 1986. It is 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. It is a 237.31 acre property with a 'working face' of .38 acres.
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!
Commercial waste from inside the city limits (hauled by City of Waco and some private entities) accounts for about 20% to 25% of the total waste brought to the current landfill.
Residential waste is hauled by the City of Waco and amounts to 43% of the total waste, amounting to nearly 65% of the total waste coming from Waco residents and businesses.Our landfill serves an 11 county region.
Over the last five years, less than 5% of the waste hauled to 948A was from outside of McLennan County.
The current landfill’s capacity has only about seven years of life remaining (as of June 2017, if the amount of trash being hauled into it does not increase).
Without a new landfill, the City of Waco would have extreme operational challenges and increased costs. This would jeopardize local control of a core city service, having long-term negative impacts on our community.
Planning ahead is imperative in order for the City to have an adequate site in full operation before the life of the current landfill runs out.
What do you look for in a new landfill site?
Selecting a piece of property for a landfill is complex. 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, and other considerations that may affect rates.
The TCEQ also has requirements for selected sites such as: floodplains, wetlands, seismic impact zones, and distance to airports, geology and hydrogeology.
What has the City done to extend the life of the current landfill?
We have and continue to improve our compaction ratios to make the space last. The more compaction, the more waste we can fit into our landfill space.
We currently offer city-wide recycling and waste diversion practices.
We issued two different requests for proposals (RFP’s) for innovative waste to energy projects to reduce the volume of waste. The proposals submitted were determined to be too costly and used unproven technology.
Can we increase recycling and extend the life of the current landfill?
Yes. Curbside recycling and yard waste diversion for residents have diverted an estimated 19,000 tons of solid waste annually, allowing the City to extend the life of the landfill by several years.
Curbside recycling participation rate in Waco is about 35%. (Note: this estimate is conservative because some Waco residents recycle household items at work, at school and at the drop-off center or at a local recycling business).
Waco has an exemplary recycling program for residents – a curbside program, a 95-gallon blue cart, delivered to your residence and helpful information all available at no charge to the customer. We also have a drop-off center to accommodate recyclables not taken at curbside, such as glass containers and large metal items.
Many of our local businesses, schools, and industries have very active recycling programs as well.
Unfortunately, recycling alone will not avert the need for a landfill as it does not make enough of an impact.
NOTE: Effective October 1, 2017, there is no fee for a second blue recycling cart for residential curbside recycling. This means that residents can have two blue recycling carts at no extra charge.
Do mosquitoes pose a threat at the current landfill?
No, the City’s current landfill properly controls mosquitoes and standing water, the breeding ground for mosquitoes, per EPA and TCEQ regulations.
Additionally, disease-carrying mosquitoes can only fly, on average, 150 yards from their hatch-out site, and therefore, do not pose a threat to nearby residents. (Source: McLennan County Public Health District).
Has the City ever disposed of sewage at the current landfill?
No. Between November 2015 and March 2016, the bio-solids dryer at the Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System (WMARSS) was offline for rehabilitation. This dryer normally turns processed biosolids that come off the plant’s belt press where the liquids are removed and the solids are pressed into fertilizer pellets that are used by area farmers.
During this time, we hauled the processed biosolids from the WMARSS plant to the landfill. This was NOT raw sewage. It was fully-treated and processed. All procedures and activities were in accordance with TCEQ regulations and this biosolids hauling project was included in the WMARSS annual sludge report to TCEQ. It was hauled Monday through Friday.
According to our records, approximately six loads a day, of processed biosolids were hauled. This disposal was also reported in the TCEQ MSW Annual Report.
New Landfill Site Selection Planning
Is a new site under consideration?
A property, owned by the City of Waco, along Old Lorena Road (FM 2837) is currently under consideration for the location of the new landfill.
Staff reviewed available options and determined that this site is an ideal parcel of land because its underlying geology— an outcropping of shale and clay—makes protecting groundwater simple and relatively cost effective.
If selected by City Council, 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 and allows for convenient access to haulers and residents.
Other landfill site options are also under consideration. City staff has presented, and will continue to present, other options to City Council in the coming weeks.
Any site selected will be permitted as a new landfill by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in full compliance with all TCEQ rules and regulations.
Is the potential site at Old Lorena Road an expansion of the current landfill?
NO.The current landfill will be closed through a State regulated process regardless of where the new site is selected to be located. The City has no plans to operate two landfills.
Possibilities for the old site could include a future public park and trail system or another amenity for the community. This has been successfully accomplished in many other cities.
Has the City expanded the landfill in the past?
In 1987, the City of Waco filed an application for a permit with the TCEQ to expand the current landfill, 948A, by 200 acres and a lawsuit was filed by a neighbor. The City agreed not to expand the landfill beyond its current boundaries.
The City never agreed to not permit a new landfill; in fact they approved the settlement with Ms. Glaze with the understanding future permits would be needed, as heard in this Waco City Council recording from September 1992:
(Mayor Robert Sheehy, Sr., and Councilmember LaNelle McNamara, District V, in discussion.)