The Development Authority is extending its existing landfill by permitting, building, and operating an approximately 110-acre expansion located on its property, adjacent to and directly south and west of the existing landfill disposal area in the Town of Rodman in Jefferson County. This footprint was revised in response to comments received as part of the permitting process and to minimize potential impacts to aquatic resources. The proposed project also includes the installation of storm water infrastructure, a perimeter road, and a temporary haul road.
The landfill expansion project will be built in phases. New landfill liner cells will be built over the next 40-50 years as additional disposal capacity is needed. A total of 11 new landfill liner cells are planned. Construction of the first two cells began in 2019 and is expected to be complete in 2020, before the disposal capacity in the existing landfill is expected to be completely exhausted in 2027.
The Authority’s existing landfill provides a reliable, environmentally sound disposal service for the residents, businesses and institutions in three counties – Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence. The available disposal capacity in the existing landfill is limited, and at current landfill usage rates is expected to be filled to capacity during the year 2027. The extension will extend the life of the existing landfill and will secure uninterrupted, long-term disposal capacity that is locally controlled, environmentally sound, and cost efficient; a critical resource for the economic stability and security in the region.
There are three main steps in the environmental review and permitting process for the landfill expansion: (i) federal wetlands permitting, (ii) the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, and (iii) New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) permitting. The Authority began working on this process in 2010. There were many public hearings and opportunities for citizens and agencies to offer comments and ask questions. The Authority received all the required permits by the end 2017.
The Authority’s current landfill incorporates numerous measures to help protect the environment. These environmental safeguards will continue to be in place and will also be included in the landfill expansion. A primary focus of these environmental safeguards is the protection of groundwater, which is achieved through a combination of several features: locating the landfill extension in an area where the soil has a high clay content thus restricting the quick movement of any contaminants, construction of a double composite liner system, a network of groundwater monitoring wells surrounding the lined waste disposal area, and monitoring activities that track the effectiveness of the liner system.
Based on the numerous safeguards of the landfill’s liner system, groundwater contamination is highly improbable. During the past 28 years of landfill operation at the site, groundwater contamination has never been identified; this is attributed to the safeguards that are put in place during design, construction, and operation and the natural characteristics of the site. The high clay content and other characteristics (i.e. low hydraulic conductivity) of the soils in the expansion area will also further protect local groundwater resources, since they will function as a natural impediment to groundwater movement – thereby allowing time to remediate any problems that may arise on site before any off-site impacts can occur.
To mitigate aquatic resource impacts, a strategy has been prepared to protect and restore aquatic resource functions and services of equal or greater value than those impacted by the landfill expansion. The mitigation strategy includes conservation actions on the landfill property and on other real property within the same watershed.
To accomplish the wetland mitigation objectives, the following aquatic resources will be protected in perpetuity on the Development Authority’s landfill property: 105 acres of wetland, 272 acres of associated upland wetland buffer area (100 feet around delineated wetlands), 198 acres of stream buffer area (some areas of which overlap with the upland wetland buffers), and approximately 45,844 linear feet of stream resources. Approximately 8,102 linear feet of these on-site stream resources will also be enhanced through the plantings of trees and shrubs within their 100-foot buffer areas.
In addition to the on-site mitigation activities, the mitigation strategy also includes wetland and stream restoration and enhancement within the same watershed along Skinner Road in the Town of Ellisburg on property owned by the NYSDEC as part of the Lakeview Wildlife Management Area. The Skinner Road off-site mitigation area is located in the lower reaches of the Salmon-Sandy Creek Watershed which has had significant wetland loss and impacts to streams from high intensity land uses and loss of riparian buffers. Restoration of wetlands and stream buffers is a priority in the lower reaches of the watershed toward Lake Ontario where these types of impacts have occurred. The completed Skinner Road mitigation activities include approximately 28 acres of wetland restoration and approximately 650 feet of stream bank and stream channel restoration and enhancement along Sandy Creek.