Just as Columbia County's only landfill fills up, the sands in its hourglass are beginning to run low.
"We've gotten to the point where it's obvious we're going to close it (Baker Place Road Landfill)," said David Daughtry, the newly elected chairman of the county's Solid Waste Management Authority.
On Thursday, the next step was taken toward a closing with the authority forwarding on a recommendation to phase out the landfill's use. Eventually, the recommendation will have to go before the county's Board of Commissioners for approval.
Earlier projections showed that the landfill would reach its full capacity by December 2003. If the recommendation to phase out its use is adopted, the life of the facility could be extended by six to eight months, said Donnie Bartles, the landfill's superintendent.
"We're doing about 400 tons a day now," Bartles said. "We're not going to be able to continue at that rate."
"I think it's well thought out," Dewey Carey, a member of the authority, said of the plan to phase out use.
The recommendation proposes that the landfill be closed to commercial and out-of-county waste use by June 30. Industrial waste transfers would cease after Dec. 31. Meanwhile, construction, demolition and sewer sludge waste would continue to be accepted until June 30, 2003. Residential waste transfers would not stop until the landfill becomes full - which is estimated to occur by July 2004 with the phase-out plan.
The landfill is already more than 75 percent full. But once it's closed, officials say residents shouldn't worry.
One option currently being mulled would allow private companies to ship the county's waste to a Richmond County landfill.
After Baker Place closes, it also could be used to produce compost. At a recent authority planning committee meeting, two University of Georgia engineers gave a presentation on the benefits of compost, saying that a net yearly income of $102,000 could be generated from the sale of yard waste and bio-solids.
"The question is, 'Do you walk away from it when it's at capacity or do you do something else?"' Bartles asked.
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