PUBLIC WORKS - SOLID WASTE & RECYCLING SERVICES

Information on public participation in the environmental permitting process (from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality)

About our current landfill (Permit #948A, 11400 Old McGregor Road)

The current City of Waco landfill is located off of Highway 84 and has been in operation since 1986. A Type 1 Municipal Solid Waste landfill, it received 288,000 tons of waste per year serving an 11-county region with 65% of the waste coming from City of Waco commercial and residential sites.

Why is the City of Waco pursuing a new landfill?

  • 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.

Can we increase recycling and extend the life of the current landfill?

While the city has successfully instituted curbside recycling as well as yard waste diversion, these programs alone will not eliminate the need for a new landfill.

Is the potential site at Old Lorena Road an expansion of the current landfill?

No. When full, the current landfill will be closed under TCEQ supervision. Closed landfills have been successfully utilized as parks, golf courses for trail systems and other community needs in other cities.

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.

How do you plan to protect water quality now and for any future landfill sites?

The current landfill (948A) is protected by a natural geologic barrier of at least 600-feet of natural shale bedrock directly below the site, physically separating it from groundwater.  In addition to the natural geologic barrier, a constructed liner also directly underlines the site. This barrier, in combination with many other features, such as multiple stormwater protection berms, isolates the trash from the surrounding soil and prevents pollutants from passing into the groundwater or running off onto surrounding areas.  These protective features prevent water that comes into contact with trash from entering Cloice Creek or any other waterway that drains to Lake Waco. Based on recent sampling by the TCEQ, the lab results showed no pollution.

How will the City address odor at any future landfill site?

Wherever the City constructs a new landfill, the TCEQ permit will require an odor management plan which requires daily cover of wastes, identification of wastes requiring special handling and immediate covering, as well as other actions to address any possible odors.

What are the next steps in the process?

The assessment of any site and development of a TCEQ permit application takes about two years. The entire permitting process will take roughly four to five years.

How will the City of Waco deal with local citizens’ concerns about the recently purchased site on TK Parkway near State Highway 31?

We hope in the coming weeks and months to be able to provide additional information to those living near the new site that will address some of the concerns they have expressed.

There are few government functions that are as highly regulated at the federal and state level as permitted landfills, which are regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The permitting process can take up to five years and requires extensive scientific studies and testing to make sure the property in question meets stringent geological requirements. The TCEQ process is public with multiple opportunities for community input.

Modern landfills have multiple buffers and layers of protection to make sure that they do not cause environmental damage on site or on adjacent property. Only a tiny portion of a landfill site is open at any one time and the material deposited there is covered by dirt each day. Modern landfills have specific plans for odor control, the collection of natural gas generated by the trash and for dealing with water from the site. A traffic study is also part of the permitting process. These are all proven techniques that are utilized throughout the U.S. and other countries to make sure that a modern landfill serves the important function of disposing of wastes safely and efficiently. The 500-acre size of this property will also allow the landfill operations to be properly buffered from the surrounding area with no material within at least 125 feet of the boundary. 

The site in question was identified by consultants who are experts in the field, after considering multiple issues including whether the property was available for sale, geological testing, and distance from the city of Waco. The property had to be acquired for access for the more extensive testing and studies necessary as part of the process.

Modern landfills exist in close proximity to areas that have continued to develop with both homes and businesses and have been turned into parks and other amenities when they reach capacity and are closed. 

In the coming months the public will have an opportunity to learn more about the permitting and approval process, and the many opportunities for public input and feedback. While we do not expect to win universal approval for this site, or any potential site, the City of Waco will work diligently along with the TCEQ to keep the public informed as this process continues.

Information on public participation in the environmental permitting process (from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality)

Questions? Feel free to contact us here.