The Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recently revisited the recurring theme of garbage collection and disposal, discussing the viability of reopening the Kremmling Landfill.

Commissioner Rich Cimino brought the question before the BOCC, in response to local builders’ concerns over the particularly high cost of disposing construction materials, a cost which is passed on to developers and homeowners. The County Manager’s office was tasked with researching the status of the Kremmling landfill, which was closed in 2010 as part of a shifting county-wide trash disposal plan. Assistant County Manager Ed Moyer reported staff findings to the Board, with an opinion that it would likely be too costly to reopen the landfill, which has limited space and expansion options.

The Kremmling Landfill occupies a 40-acre site just northeast of the Town of Kremmling. It is bounded by the Town, the Bureau of Land Management, and the bluffs. It was closed following the closure of the Granby Landfill in 2010, when then commissioners decided to get out of the government-run trash business and encourage private enterprise. The Granby Transfer Station was opened that same year by the Trash Company, or Waste Connections, Inc. Since, Grand County’s waste has been transported by truck to the Erie Landfill, 105 miles away on the Front Range. Recyclables have been hauled to Waste Management’s Franklin Street single-stream recycling facility in Denver.

Moyer reported that the initial closure cost the County $600,000, including installing a 3-foot cap of soil over the fill. The landfill had not reached capacity, but produced under $23,000 in annual revenue during the last five years of its operation. At the time, just over 10 acres of the site was still available for disposal. It could provide 70,000 cubic yards of space for disposal, or 110,000 cubic yards if the cap were removed. In 2009, the BLM had refused a possible deal for a 15-acre expansion onto adjacent land.

Moyer says that “to start the process moving from an approved post-closing plan with the Department of Public Health and Environment to reopening the landfill, we’d now fall under new landfill regulations in Colorado and would no longer be a grandfathered landfill.”

Cost estimates for reopening, gathered in conjunction with Grand County Road and Bridge and the County Engineer, indicate the need for a $200,000 new design and operations plan and undetermined costs for permitting, a new liner, leachate collection, and installation of water-monitoring wells. Additional costs would include an approximated $1.5 million in equipment costs, $206,000 a year in salary and benefits, and unknown operations and maintenance costs. All this, Moyer said, “for what is a small area.”

“Could we get to the positives?” Cimino pressed, “We gain 70,000 cubic yards of space.”

“There are lots of other implications as well,” agreed Commissioner Merrit Linke. “It would keep trucks off of Highway 40 and help alleviate the traffic problems to Denver.”

However, when Linke asked directly about the life span of a reopened Kremmling Landfill, there were no hard numbers. Moyer said he did not know how much garbage was transported annually from Grand County to the Front Range. County Manager Lee Staab guesstimated, “assuming 15,000 people in the county and all of them generating the average amount of trash generated by Americans each year, to include recycling, that would fill 3,000 cubic yards a week. Given the 110,000 cubic yards of space, with the cap removed, it would reach capacity in 36.6 weeks.”

Discussion was dimmed after hearing these numbers, but Commissioners remained sympathetic to the issue. “Grand County’s trash costs are the highest in the state,” remarked Commissioner Kris Manguso.

Cimino asked that the Board still listen to the building industry and invite builders to express their concerns and ideas directly to the BOCC. Manguso recommended that the BLM be approached again regarding possible expansion in Kremmling, or that the Board consider opening their own transfer station. It was decided to pursue these areas of research later in the year, November or December, after the completion of the County’s budget process.

–In trying to research the extent of Grand County’s “trash problem” for this article, the Trash Company responded that, “per company policy,” they could not release numbers on either tons of trash or truck loads transported annually from the county to the Front Range.