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  • Writer's pictureErin B.

Kootenai County Solid Waste Quarterly Update

Solid Waste

Solid Waste Director John Phillips gives the commissioners his quarterly operations update on the county's solid waste and landfill facilities. Overall Phillips notes that transfer station volumes have slowed during the holidays but that is expected. Rural site bins get overloaded when transfer stations close causing more work for the haulers although site monitoring and education is reducing dumping issues. Projects underway include a new public drop off area at Ramsey, a leachate treatment pilot program, landfill phase E3 construction, and permitting a new landfill cell. Stats show increased customer volumes and garbage tonnage at most sites compared to last year.


Full notes below.


Project Updates

Ramsey Transfer Station

Continuing work on new future public drop off design and future construction of that area. Solid Waste and Jacobs Engineering are working together to finalize design. Design and layout are done. Nearly ready to begin construction. As long as the weather holds, the project should be done by early Spring. Waiting on IDEQ for final approval to building on top of landfill.

Will allow customers to come to Ramsey and drop off small loads. Controlled site with staffing and people will not have to go through scales. Estimated to cut down scale house traffic by 30-50%.


Leachate Treatment Pilot Up-Date

Industrial wastewater that can come out of landfill from rainwater/snow that can permeate waste. HARSB contacted them to say that they can no longer accept wastewater without treatment of harmful chemicals but the county is still federally obligated to deal with this water. No local treatment facility will allow this wastewater. County Solid Waste worked with Jacobs Engineering and Dynatec Systems for a treatment evaluation and bench scale pilot which was successful. Working to get a full-scale pilot system in place by March 2024.


Renting a large-scale pilot system through Dynatec Systems will be able to treat up to 1 million gallons of wastewater per month. Cost will be $35,000 per month but Dynatec says the county can recoup about 87% of equipment costs which could be put towards purchasing their own equipment.


Benefits include being able to take treated wastewater to HARSB treatment facility, increase amount of leachate removed, and would increase evaporation through their mister/evaporation system on-site this summer.


Landfill Phase E3 Construction

Recently went out to bid. Solid Waste will be giving their bid award recommendation to BOCC at their business meeting this afternoon. Construction will occur in 2024.


Landfill Closure Plan and Costs Up-Date

Jacobs Engineering just completed cost estimates for the future closure of the Fighting Creek Landfill. Costs of closing a landfill are expensive and include capping/covering landfill and 30 years of environmental monitoring. Working with Jacobs Engineering to accurately set monies aside for the future expense instead of putting entire financial burden on future taxpayers.


Landfill South Cell Permitting

County purchased property years ago under then-Director Roger Saterfiel adjacent to Fighting Creek Landfill. This property was not part of the original landfill permitting process but needs to be wrapped into the current conditional use permit and they are ready to move forward. This will be moving forward this Spring.


Fighting Creek Landfill

Operations – Garbage volumes have slowed slightly which is typical during the holiday system. Crew is building lift upward by 15 ft. from the current road system so as they fill landfill, they can fill upwards and reuse lift/roads. Helps with overall costs instead of having to build new roads.


Landfill Gas System – Gas collection system has been operating well in this mild winter. Ice and very cold weather can affect gas collection so this mild winter is helping mitigate those odors.


Transfer Station

Operations – Transfer volumes have slowed slightly, which is typical during the holiday system.


Staffing Levels and Recruitment – Last quarter’s update reported that all Solid Waste positions were filled. There is some minor turnover, normal, and now there are 4 open positions: 1 equipment operator, 1 labor equipment operator, 2 solid waste technicians. Expecting to fill those positions soon.


Rural Sites

Operations – Sunshine Recycling hauls between rural sites and transfer stations. Can typically handle load except for the day after holidays – as transfer stations are closed, people tend to go to a rural site to dump holiday trash which piles up on top of bins and makes more work for Sunshine. Mica Flats has been hit especially hard with too much trash this 2023 holiday season.


Patrol and Public Education – Sheriff’s Department continues to do an excellent job patrolling these facilities and site abuse is down. Site abuse consists of commercial dumping (they must go directly to transfer station) and residential dumping onto the ground.


Solid Waste Statistics/January 2023-November 2023 (Compared to Previous Year Same Timeframe)
  • Ramsey Transfer Station customer count up 4.92%

  • Ramsey Garbage Tonnage up 3.22%

    • (includes recyclables)

  • Prairie Transfer Station up 5.3% customer

  • Prairie Garbage Tonnage up 2%


Why the difference between customer and garbage numbers? More recycling (wood/cardboard/etc).


  • Fighting Creek Landfill tonnage up 1.4%, of that 5,511 tons was hauled directly to landfill by contractors.


  • Rural sites Athol and Chilco site visits were down 3.85%

  • Athol and Chilco tonnage down 11.76%

    • The numbers could be slightly skewed because they have a different hauler than last year. The way they’re reporting garbage could be slightly different.

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