Over the course of years, the cells where garbage is placed at the Rapid City Regional Landfill fill up. Our Jon Wilson takes you to the site where a new cell is in the works.
On average, the Rapid City Regional Landfill takes in 450 to 500 tons or 900,000 to 1,000,000 pounds of garbage per day. That garbage is placed underground in what are called cells. When those cells fill, new ones need to be made. Over the next few months, construction will really get going on this new cell.
Rapid City Solid Waste Division Superintendent Karl Merbach says, "So what you see behind me here, this will be our next phase. We're really on the southern phase. What you see to the left here, all of this area, all of this dirt will be excavated to build a large cell that will be lined with plastic, with other things so we make sure that is safe and meets the regulations to be able to bury garbage here for the next ten years."
It's not as simple as just dumping garbage into a pit. The new cell will be approximately ten acres in size with a price near $7 million to keep things safe and stay within government-issued guidelines.
Merbach says, "The thing that gets people a little nervous when you see an estimate of $6.8 million, it's an investment for the future. It's a one time, upfront cost. We need to put in all the material, the liner, we need to make sure that we are protecting the groundwater, all the other things that we need to to stay in compliance with state and federal regulations."
When construction is complete later this year, the cell you see behind Merbach will be 4-5 times larger than it currently is.
Merbach says, "We are working to start construction on this after opening bids, probably around the first of March, and this will be completed by August, and then we'll be ready to go."
With current intake from Rapid City and other nearby communities, it is estimated this new cell will last around ten years, but with more people remembering those three R's, it will last longer.
Merbach says, "We're always looking for people to reduce, reuse, recycle. Anything we can divert from just having to bury in the landfill, that's also our goal as a Solid Waste Division."