Mat-Su Borough looks at developing private wastewater facility at Central Landfill
Most of the human waste collected in the Mat-Su Borough is hauled into Anchorage because the borough doesn’t have its own wastewater treatment plant. The borough reports 93% of residents rely on private septic systems and it costs private companies about $700,000 a year to transport the waste out of the area.
The Mat-Su Borough is now looking to put a for-profit septage or waste to energy facility on an undeveloped parcel at the Central Landfill. Project manager Mike Campfield said the sewage is handled by the private sector and the borough is looking to keep it that way. Campfield says a facility in the Valley will keep costs down for residents and will keep trucks off the road to and from Anchorage.
The Central Landfill is a busy place with the construction of a new cell, a new leachate facility in the works and a gravel mining operation. One of the landfill’s closest neighbors, Annie Bill, has had her fill of the construction noise.
“We hear the backup beepers all day long, so beep, beep, beep, imagine that. Of course, the heavy trucks are moving and when they dump into the gravel haulers it’s a huge kaboom, it sounds like an explosion,” Bill described.
She and her neighbors have many concerns about the potential plans for a septage facility, including increased noise, odors and water contamination.
“We understand that you need a treatment facility but we believe it doesn’t belong in any neighborhood,” Bill said.
Campfield said there was an extensive site selection process that included groundwater monitoring, soil sampling, traffic analysis and potential impacts to the neighborhoods. He said the Central Landfill plot was chosen as the best out of more than a dozen locations.
“Everywhere you go there’s going to be a neighborhood. If it’s not this one here it’s one in Wasilla or in Big Lake,” Campfield said.
Bill was one of dozens who turned out to the borough’s open house where people could learn more information about the proposed project.
“I feel strongly the Borough has not done an adequate job informing the public about their plan, although they do claim they let people know in 2015, none of the nearby homeowners knew anything about this until about a month ago,” Bill said.
Campfield admits the borough could have done a better job at informing the public about the plans. He said the open house was an effort to answer questions and work with the neighbors going forward.
“We want to be good neighbors and also provide the public with the service that they need,” Campfield said. “We need a wastewater treatment facility but we also don’t want to build that and then ruin the properties adjacent to that.”
Panthea Redwood’s home is on one of those adjacent properties. Her biggest worry is the possibility of an open sewage lagoon, similar to the one in Talkeetna.
“I think if they can cover it completely so there’s no possibility of smell or odors,” Redwood said. “Remember our weather is getting warmer and the warm days, they're not used to. They haven’t planned before for 90-degree days in Palmer.”
None of the plans are set yet. Campfield said the borough will put out a request for proposals later this summer.
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