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Making way for future trash

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A newly opened cell at the Steinbach landfill will extend the lifespan of the site for 12-13 years.

While the first phase of this plan began when former Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen tossed the first bag of trash into the cell in 2010, the second phase completes the southern half of the space allotted.

A third phase is planned for the space between the old hill and the new hill and will give the community another 25-28 years after the second phase is filled.

GREG VANDERMEULEN THE CARILLON Eldon Wallman, City of Steinbach manager of solid waste, stands beside pipes used to pump out leachate in the new cell.

Eldon Wallman, solid waste manager for the City of Steinbach said estimates are based on tonnage, and growth projections, though he added the tonnage is not rising as fast as population in the area.

“People are recycling or diverting more,” he said.

The new cell has a slightly smaller footprint than the one they’ve nearly filled, but Wallman said they managed to dig it one metre deeper, giving them a few more years of use.

Creating a new cell for garbage is not just digging a hole in the ground.

Wallman said specifications must be met, which typically includes lining the bottom with a geo-mat to ensure the leachate does not penetrate the ground.

A very expensive step, it’s one that’s not needed in Steinbach thanks to a specific type of clay.

“We have natural blue till clay here which is even more solid than the plastic mat,” he said.

Not only does that make construction faster, it represents considerable savings for taxpayers.

“Probably the size we did here would have been $2-3 million to put the mat underneath,” he said. “It’s very expensive to do but it’s necessary to prevent the leachate, the garbage juice, from getting out into the environment.”

While the landfill is now comfortably able to receive trash for more than the next decade, a few months ago the future was not so rosy.

That’s because a later tender call delayed construction.

“The tender came out about half a year later than what we wanted to do so were supposed to be finished already last summer,” he said.

GREG VANDERMEULEN THE CARILLON A landfill employee moves and compacts trash as the current cell nears capacity.

That would have given the landfill a comfortable six months before they’d need to use the new one.

Instead, construction was completed during the Christmas week, and Wallman said they will need to start using the new cell in a matter of weeks.

The next phase will include some prep work that wasn’t needed in the first two cells. Wallman said they’ll need to remove a roadway that has seven feet of gravel which they’ll want to repurpose. They’ll also need to relocate a hydro line that currently travels through the landfill.

Planning continues past that stage as well. Wallman said they have plans for a future landfill near the city’s lagoon. Based on current projections that wouldn’t be needed until at least 2060.

He added that they’re pleased to see more waste being diverted than ever before.

“There were some years we were growing in population and our tonnage went in reverse,” he said.

Recycling and compost can be dropped at the landfill site year round at no charge.

A third community compost depot will also be added in Steinbach on Saturdays this summer. The popular program begins annually in May and ends in October.

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