A safer, bigger place to dump

Solid Waste Department tackles projects

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Garry Milkins, of Athol, dumps a can of household waste at a Kootenai County Solid Waste dump site in Twin Lakes on Wednesday. The department is considering consolidation of the site with the Garwood location.

A safer place to dump your junk, and more space to bury it.

Those are the goals of upcoming projects at the Kootenai County Solid Waste Department, specifically a $6 million expansion of the Fighting Creek Landfill and the consolidation of two rural dump sites onto county-owned property.

"Those are our two main projects for now," said Solid Waste Director Roger Saterfiel.

Fighting Creek isn't full yet, Saterfiel promised.

But it will be in two years, he said, and Solid Waste likes to time expansions to maintain that much of a window.

"We don't get the option of telling people we don't have a place to put your garbage," Saterfiel said.

The expansion, which will be funded by accumulated Solid Waste fees and started "the earlier the better," will add an additional 13 acres, he said.

The landfill was initially 32 acres, and another 13 was added two years ago.

The state of the economy allows for some deals on construction costs, Saterfiel noted.

"We saved well over $1.5 million two years ago because of the economy, and we're hoping to take advantage of that now as well," he said.

The landfill has received 4.4 billion pounds of trash since May 1993, Saterfiel said. It currently receives 121,000 tons per year.

The expanded space could last a while.

The landfill is filling at a slower pace, Saterfiel said, thanks to the department's new recycling efforts and improvements in how garbage is compacted.

"Three years ago we found we'd gained an entire year of landfill space, because of our recycling and compaction efforts," he said, basing the information off a routine fly-over analysis.

Solid Waste will also hold a hearing before the county commissioners next month, over a proposal to consolidate the Twin Lakes and Garwood dump sites in Rathdrum at a new central location.

The new 9-acre dump site at Ramsey and Chilco roads would be in step with the county's long-term plan to relocate all rural dump sites onto county-owned property.

Located within five miles of the current sites, the new location would have 55 to 100 dumpsters and be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Saterfiel acknowledged that the two current sites, used by a combined 540 people a day, have been provided free by the state.

But there are concerns that the state might decide to use either site for a different purpose, he said.

The county also has more flexibility to improve properties it owns, he pointed out.

"We don't own those (current) properties, so to do any improvements on them is a waste of taxpayers' money," Saterfiel said.

Improvements at the consolidated spot would include adding electricity and staffing, Saterfiel said. The improvements will make the site cleaner, he said, and better equipped to prevent issues like folks sifting through garbage for identity theft.

"In all my years of being in garbage, I never thought you'd have to worry about your safety when you dump," Saterfiel said. "The importance of it is, it's going to be a nice, clean, safe site for our residents to use. And, this is probably the most important thing, it ensures they will have a site."

The hearing over the requested conditional use permit to construct and operate a collection site at the new location is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Sept. 20, in room 1 of the county administration building.

The purchase of the new site is conditioned on the commissioners' approval, Saterfiel said, adding that he could not disclose the price of the property at this stage.

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