Landfill expansion money buys county time

The Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday approved $4.9 million for a lateral expansion to the island’s sole landfill in Kekaha.

The decision, which will extend the landfill’s life by five years, buys the county time as it shops for a new facility site on Kaua‘i.

The Kekaha landfill was expected to reach capacity in December or January, though a recent aerial survey of the facility has identified areas that can accept more density, and perhaps extend the life by another year.

The council’s unanimous vote approved the transfer of $1 million earmarked for Maluhia Road improvements, $1 million from the Kapa‘a baseyard structural renovation and $2.9 million from project contingency for the expansion.

Chair Jay Furfaro said the council had no real choice in the matter given the urgency of the situation, and that its role was akin to that of an air traffic control tower.

“We need to move today,” he said.

Before the expansion work can begin, however, permits must be finalized.

Meanwhile, the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Landfill Site Selection is working to finalize the criteria that will be used to rank the eight possible locations for a new landfill on Kaua‘i.

The 15-member appointed group, under the guidance of two consultants, determined 26 conditions ranging from population density near the site to the cost of acquisition.

“We anticipate that the ranking process will be complete and a recommended location for the new landfill site will be made by December,” Troy Tanigawa, environmental service management engineer with the Division of Solid Waste, said yesterday via e-mail.

Furfaro said concurrent with selecting a new site, the county must move on a materials recovery facility, or MRF, to reduce the amount of waste diverted there so it lasts longer.

In addition, a pilot program for curbside recycling, which would be taken to the MRF, is still in the works. It was funded in the current fiscal year budget, and could launch in Wailua or Kapa‘a, according to Furfaro.

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