For most of 2015, RAIN was a "four letter word" at the Beatrice Area Solid Waste Agency (BASWA). Just the thought of rain made the landfill operators cringe. The majority of the garbage that comes into the landfill is bailed into 2-foot by 4-foot by 5-foot bails and stacked five bails high into a pyramid formation. The material that cannot be bailed is taken by garbage trucks directly into the landfill and dumped so it can be worked with heavy equipment.
This spring we started a new level of bails in the landfill. Construction plans for the landfill state that when construction of a new level begins, it must begin in the farthest southeast corner of the landfill and work north and west from there.
For the first six months of the year, the primary access to the landfill area was by using a narrow uphill road entering from the northwest side of the landfill. Once in the landfill, garbage trucks or the public would cross the top of the clay-covered landfill to the new level of bails.
In a normal year, when rainfall was predicted, landfill operators would create a road across the landfill using rock or wood chips to prevent vehicles from getting stuck as they tried to dump their garbage.
As we all know, 2015 has not been a normal year for rain.
April, May, and June were the wettest three months I can remember. As what seemed like weekly showers or storms dwindled, the landfill used the wood chip reserve and consumed the budget for rock, as landfill operators worked to keep the access road passable for vehicles. Many days the garbage trucks and the public would enter the landfill to dump during a storm, only to have chains hooked to them to be pulled out by the landfill operators.
As the rainfall totals kept increasing and construction of the new level of bales progressed, it presented an opportunity for a new road to be constructed into the landfill from a new location. This new access road could be constructed wider than the original access road and with not as steep of an incline. This new road would allow garbage trucks and the public to enter the landfill during storms and not have to worry about getting stuck.
Construction of the road was planned and performed by the City Street Department. The new access road required approximately 3,100 cubic yards of clay, 300 tons of rock, and is 28 feet wide to accommodate two-way traffic. Access to the landfill has never been easier and contractors as well as the public are happier as they enter and leave the landfill.
Looking back at the challenges presented by the amount of rain we received, it is easy to say that if it had not been for the constant rain, the decision to construct a new access road would not have been such an easy decision to make.