Powell, WY


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The landfill’s end is here. Kind of.

On Wednesday morning, it was business as usual at the Powell landfill as Bob Marney operated a loader, but changes are ahead.  On Wednesday morning, it was business as usual at the Powell landfill as Bob Marney operated a loader, but changes are ahead. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

The Powell and Clark landfills are closing to household waste next week, but the changes won’t be as drastic as the word “closure” might imply.

“We are closing areas of the landfill; we are not locking the gates and walking away,” said Park County Landfill Office Manager Sandie Morris.

Starting on Tuesday, Sept. 18, Park County landfill managers will be barred from burying household trash — also known as municipal solid waste — at the Powell and Clark sites. However, landfill managers will, for an increased fee, still accept citizen’s household trash at roll-off bins at both sites. Other types of waste, such as grass clippings and dry trash such as furniture and construction materials, will be accepted at the landfill as they have been (see the document embedded below for more detail).

Morris says it’s more accurate to think of the landfills’ closures as conversions to dry landfills. The conversions can be attributed to new state regulations aimed at protecting groundwater from liquid garbage. It was once thought that Wyoming was too dry to have to worry about garbage run-off reaching groundwater, but testing around the state has proven otherwise.

“That’s the whole way this world is turning, and we are just grudgingly being drug into it 20, 30 years later,” Morris said.

Folks who have garbage service — such as city of Powell residents and those who contract with private haulers — can keep putting out their trash as usual and should not expect to see rate increases at this time.

There will be some changes for the haulers themselves. Roll-off bins in Powell and Clark can’t handle large volumes, so the city and private haulers will need to dump their household trash at the regional landfill in Cody or somewhere else that continues to accept that waste.

County commissioners found upgrading only the Cody site was the most cost-effective way to meet new state regulations aimed at protecting groundwater from liquid garbage; doing the same upgrades at Powell and Clark would have been cost-prohibitive, a county study found.

The city of Powell has been the Powell landfill’s biggest user by far, and it stands to be the most impacted. The Powell Sanitation Department will begin taking city residents’ trash to Cody on Tuesday.

City Administrator Zane Logan said the city is still waiting for a state permit to build a transfer station on North Ingalls Street near the Sanitation Department. The city plans to build the roughly $1.43 million transfer station to store trash temporarily and make fewer trips to Cody.

Logan said if the city receives a state permit for the transfer station later this month or in early October, construction may begin this fall. Otherwise, it will be next spring, he said. Until then, the city will need to make multiple trips per day to Cody, Monday through Saturday, said Allen Griffin, city sanitation public health technician.

To begin hauling trash to Cody, rather than the Powell landfill, “is going to take a lot of teamwork in our department,” Griffin said.

Last month, city leaders talked about possibly hauling trash to the Cowley landfill, noting it’s several miles closer than the one in Cody. But Logan said Tuesday that it may not work with Cowley’s landfill permit.

Logan said the city does not have plans to raise garbage rates.

“We don’t anticipate anything this budget year, which ends in June,” Logan said.

He said the city will wait and see what happens when the transfer station begins operating.

Customers of Keele Sanitation and Two Tough Guys Services likely will not even notice anything is changing.

“Everything will stay the same for us, prices and everything,” said Chuck Keele of Keele Sanitation. He said most of the company’s Park County trash has been going to Cody anyway.

Similarly, “it should be a very easy adjustment for us. It shouldn’t be a big deal,” said Jody Goldbach, who co-owns Two Tough Guys Services. While the company did dump some loads in Powell, they’ve been planning for the closure to household waste and there won’t be any price increases as a result of Tuesday’s changes, Goldbach said.

For customers who take their own household trash to the Powell or Clark landfills to use the roll-off bins, trash must be bagged or boxed or it cannot be placed in the bins.

For Powell, the one exception to that rule is for burn barrel waste. While burn barrels won’t be accepted in Clark, Powell landfill staff will separately handle barrel ashes to ensure there’s no fire risk before putting them in the roll-off bins.

Anything that’s put in the bins is also subject to a higher fee.

Instead of the county’s standard $90 a ton tipping fee, folks dumping household trash in the roll-offs will be billed $120 per ton. Bags of trash, previously $1 per 30-gallon bag, will now cost $4 a bag to toss.

Those higher rates are intended only to offset the added cost of having a contractor haul the bins to the Cody landfill, as commissioners wanted them to be cost-neutral for the county.

“At the end of that (next) year, we will review the numbers,” Morris said. “Because none of us have ever done this before.”

It’s her understanding that Park County is the first in the state to switch its facilities to dry landfills instead of fully closing them.

“We are kind of breaking ground here,” she said.

Here's a list of what can and can not go in the Powell landfill starting Tuesday. Keep in mind that many of the items listed as unacceptable wastes (such as hazardous materials) couldn't be accepted before. Municipal solid waste (i.e. household trash) can no longer be put in the Powell and Clark landfills starting Tuesday, but residents can dispose of it in roll-off bins at both location -- at a higher rate.


  • posted by Donald Meschke

    September 21, 2012 4:24 pm

    I live in Powell, and I went out there over a week ago, that I couldn't my scrap lumber there. I have done it in the past for no extra fee. I believe whoever lives in Powell should still be able to dump there, without the extra charge. But I guess they want us to fill our dumpsters full of stuff we can haul ourselves.

  • posted by clipstein

    September 14, 2012 1:27 pm

    here it goes again putting it to the people of powell......put the transfer station right in a negiborhood...... wow that really takes guts as brains would tell them wiser

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