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Members of the Minot City Council voted 4-3 at their Dec. 3 meeting to move ahead with a plan to partially expand the current City landfill while immediately beginning to study the potential of moving the landfill to a new location.
The council voted to allow the City to seek state permits to expand the landfill at its current location, but limited the scope of the expansion. The City will seek to rezone for public use the entire 320 acres purchased by the City in August 2017 while planning to construct new landfill cells only on roughly 80 acres located south of the current cells. The City would also seek to permit a smaller area of land near the existing inert waste site to expand that operation.
Jason Sorenson, assistant director of Public Works, told the Committee of the Whole that the City’s current landfill is expected to reach capacity of municipal solid waste between 2023 and 2025. He said the plan approved by the City Council will give the City some flexibility to expand the current site while also looking for available land for a new landfill.
At the request of City Council, City officials will also evaluate the savings that could come from reducing the current twice-a-week garbage collection to once a week.
Although Minot serves as a regional landfill, and has since the late 1990s, Sorenson said approximately 61 percent of the waste going into the landfill comes from Minot. That total includes municipal solid waste, yard waste, trees, inert waste, and lime. Minot accounts for roughly 40 percent of the municipal solid waste that goes into the landfill each year.
The City of Minot began using the current landfill, located just outside the city limits on the city’s southwestern edge, in 1971. Since then, as the city’s population and business community have grown, homes and businesses have been built in the area near 16th Street Southwest, including the Dakota Square Mall and the Green Acres subdivision. In 2017, the City of Minot purchased approximately 320 acres of land adjacent to the current landfill for future expansion. A request to the Minot Planning Commission to rezone the newly purchased land for public use was withdrawn by the City after concerns were raised about the landfill expansion.
As part of the ongoing discussion of the future of Minot’s current landfill, a focus group was created that included city employees and members of the public. The focus group, which held seven meetings, was comprised of 15 people, including city staff members and a consultant. The group included three people who live or own property adjacent to the landfill, three people from other parts of the city, and one representative each from Surrey, Burlington, Trinity Health, First District Health Unit, Ward County, and a private waste hauling company.
In 1993, the Environmental Protection Agency passed the Subtitle D Regulations, which were a host of new regulations that required landfills to have liners, leachate collection and monitoring, among other changes. When those were passed, Sorenson said many landfills in the country closed because they couldn’t afford the upgrades.
“Minot is the only community in our area that stepped up,” Sorenson said. “As soon as the decision was made to upgrade to the Subtitle D Regulations, Minot essentially became a regional landfill. Since 1991, we’ve taken waste from a variety of locations in the region.”
The City of Minot’s sanitation department collects approximately 15,000 tons of municipal solid waste yearly from the residential customers the City serves in Minot. Private haulers collect waste from some residential customers in Minot and all of the commercial waste in the city, which brings in another estimated 15,000 tons yearly. The landfill is also utilized by other area entities in surrounding counties, brining another 80,000 tons of municipal solid waste yearly to the Minot facility.