WATERLOO | The Black Hawk County Landfill is in a deep hole.
But that's just the way customers like it.
Cell W-2, a new $5 million pit on the southwest corner of the landfill south of Waterloo, was cleared for business last week by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Cities and private waste haulers have been looking forward to the new cell. It should dramatically cut down closures due to high winds, which can lead to the cancellation of garbage collection.
Waste Tech Inc., the landfill's contract operator, wasted little time building an access ramp out of garbage so trucks can get to the bottom of the 55-foot-deep cell to empty their loads.
Cell W-1, which opened in 2007, is nearly full, so waste there is now dumped on top of a mound more than 30 feet above grade. Fences can't keep litter from blowing across the countryside.
"When you're up in the air and the wind is blowing, it's a bad thing when a garbage truck opens up," said Brett Vette, administrator for the county Solid Waste Management Commission.
The landfill will continue using up Cell W-1's capacity but will be sending trucks down into W-2 when winds blow hard.
Vette said the new site is more than a hole in the ground.
The bottom of the cell has a de-watering system, which pumps groundwater into a nearby ditch and keeps the hole from filling naturally.
The de-watering level is covered with a layer of clay, a plastic liner, a fabric and then a layer of rubber tire chips which collect leachate, essentially the water that touches garbage. Leachate is pumped into a sanitary sewer to the Waterloo Waste Water Treatment Plant.
Vette said the process used 22,000 tons of tire chips, or roughly 2.2 million car tires, essentially repurposing a difficult waste item.
C.J. Moyna & Sons Inc. of Elkader excavated the dirt for the cell last year, and it was built by JB Holland Construction Inc. of Decorah.
Cell W-2 has a footprint of 800 feet by 900 feet, or 17 acres, and goes down 55 feet. It is designed to be filled 55 feet above ground level, meaning the eventual mound will mirror the hole in the ground now.
Vette said the new cell will continue taking all of the waste generated in Black Hawk, Bremer and Fayette counties along with waste from five towns in Grundy County and two in Buchanan County.
"We think this will last eight to 10 years," he said.
The landfill still has room in its existing site along Washburn Road between Hess and Hammond roads for two more future cells the size of cells W-1 and W-2. Solid Waste Management Commission members have purchased more land east of the existing site, across Hess Road, for long-term landfill operations.