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Landfill expansion discussed

A time will come when Dickinson's landfill reaches its capacity. In preparation for that time, Dickinson Public Works Department and city commissioners met last week to discuss what action they will take in the future. According to Gary Zuroff, p...

Recycling could extend the life of Dickinson's landfill, which is costly to expand. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press
Dickinson City Landfill only has 15 to 20 years before its reaches capacity. City commissioners and city staff last week discussed options that include expanding the current site or building a new site. (file photo)

A time will come when Dickinson's landfill reaches its capacity.

In preparation for that time, Dickinson Public Works Department and city commissioners met last week to discuss what action they will take in the future.

According to Gary Zuroff, public works director, the existing site has roughly 15 to 20 years left before its lifespan ends.

"There's consideration of expanding at the facility, and the city is looking at options of other areas within the county," Zuroff said.

Dickinson City Landfill, converted from an old coal mine, is located south of Lehigh.

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The site takes waste from all of Southwestern North Dakota, though.

"Dickinson is about half of all the waste that gets brought to the landfill," Zuroff said.

Two options exist: expanding the current landfill, which Zuroff calls their "best option," or creating a new site.

A site study was completed last year on areas within a 10-mile radius of the city to serve as a possible new site.

"The commission is now looking at maybe expanding that area," Zuroff said.

The greater cost would be creating a new site.

"The expansion of a landfill is not quite as expensive as siting a new landfill," Zuroff said. "Siting a new landfill can be up to $10 million."

There are restrictions that apply to where a landfill can be located, Jan Murtha, city attorney, said.

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"It can't be within so many miles from an airport," she said, "or within so many miles of different things."

Expansion would cost less, depending on the price of the property.

"A smaller cell expansion, which is developing an area right near the existing site, is a couple of million," Zuroff said. "It would depend on how big an area you want to expand the site."

A potential site, on privately-owned land adjacent to the landfill, is being considered.

More specific details were not provided.

The city is proceeding with a new site study to determine if the land would be appropriate for an expansion, and the landowner's interest in selling the land.

Key to finding a suitable site is the longevity it will provide the city, Zuroff said.

"We'd like to find a site that would give the city and the southwestern area a number of years," he said. "The existing site has been there for quite a few years. It would be worth developing a site, building a landfill, if it was for an extended period of time."

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City commissioners previously asked city staff to provide information on all of their options, Murtha said.

"Now that we've looked at all these things," she said, "we're coming to the commission and saying, 'Here's some information we have about the properties, what's your direction?'"

The current landfill site is not yet burdened or struggling, Zuroff said.

"It's been a great site," he said. "It's just that it's life expectancy is another 15 to 20 years, at the most."

Zuroff applauded the efforts being taken by the city.

"We need to look into the future and look long-term of what direction we want to go," he said. "This is a good time to look at options."

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