Dothan’s landfill will likely hit capacity some time in 2015, and city leaders have yet to decide whether to expand at the current site or pursue another option.
Expansion is the cheapest alternative, but nearby residents say it’s time for some other section of town to take on the burden.
At an Alabama Department of Environmental Management hearing in June, Dothan resident Earl Jones said landfills have consistently been placed in east Dothan despite assurances that they would not continue to be located there.
Neighbors have tolerated the smells and potential for groundwater contamination for decades and they want the landfill at the intersection of Webb and Burkett roads closed.
Numbers provided by the Public Works Department show expansion is the least costly option. Some of the other alternatives considered include:
End the municipal garbage program and outsource pickup and disposal.
Build a transfer station under city control (the city could continue to collect landfill tipping fees) for the purpose of trucking garbage to a landfill outside Dothan.
Build a transfer station under control of a private company for the purpose of trucking garbage to a landfill outside of Dothan.
Build a landfill at another site in or near Dothan.
Even if the Dothan City Commission does decide to expand the landfill at the current site, the cost will still be in the millions.
A report compiled by the Public Works Department lists $920,000 to purchase land for the new landfill, $600,000 related to engineering work and environmental permits, $4 million to construct and line a new 15-acre landfill cell, $2 million for landfill-related equipment and $250,000 to relocate a major power line owned by Alabama Power that runs across the proposed landfill area.
The Environmental Services Division operates the city landfill and provides once-a-week automated garbage collection and once-a-week trash collection.
Residents never paid a solid waste fee until earlier this year, when Dothan began charging $14.75 monthly.
It costs millions each year to provide the equipment and manpower to collect garbage, trash and items for recycling. Automated garbage trucks are nearing the end of their expected lifespan. The city recently bought new equipment to cover the entire city through a voluntary curbside recycling program.
Public Works Director Jerry Corbin said the cost would be significantly higher had the city not decided a few years ago to change the way it picked up garbage.
The city switched from manual pickup with rear-loading trucks and three-man crews to automated trucks with a one-man crew starting in 2005. Garbage pickup went from twice a week to once a week with the introduction of 96-gallon bins provided by the city.
With the current landfill more than 90 percent full, the clock is counting down on finding an alternative.