The Wausau Garden Club recently had the opportunity to visit the Springhill Landfill a facility of Waste Management.
Landfill representative Ashley Pope first introduced the group to the facility through a slide show and described the recycling functions of the site.
Explaining the process of the site, Pope said garbage is distributed on the currently active hill, covered with dirt, watered down and packed tightly.
One of the slides depicted the tubes (pipes) used to collect the leachate. Pope said researchers are working on making a bacterial process where the leachate can be cleaned on site and recycled back onto the hill. She said this would be a tremendous savings in not having to use all “new” water, and in cost of transporting the hazardous water off site, and the cost of cleaning it. She said this water is the worst odor of the facility.
Other recycling involves collecting the methane gas from the decomposing garbage in the “closed” hill. Another of the slides showed the tubes (pipes) used to collect the gas. It is pumped to the “gas plant” where it is dewatered and compressed. Some of the gas is used to power the trucks owned by the company. The visitors went to the gas plant and observed the generators, and the many control panels monitoring the operation. The electricity is used on site and the excess is sold to Alabama Power and Light, who sells electricity to West Florida Electric.
Pope then took the visitors to other areas of the property, where wildlife and nature appear to be in charge, although there were throughout stations for groundwater sampling. They walked through the woods and swamp on “boardwalks” made of recycled plastic.
The path was built as a nature walk with signs identifying some of the plants. This location hosts a lot of school children throughout the spring, and there is a picnic area with a lot of room to run. Also on the boardwalk there is an area which can be instructional for a small group. Tables in the picnic area and the gazebo with its tables are made of recycled plastic.
These sites are designated for wildlife protection and wildlife seems abundant. The visitors saw alligators, squirrels, rabbi, crayfish and heard a lot of birds. They even had the opportunity to peek into a mockingbird nest and saw the eggs.
There are young fruit trees planted in the park-like area, more for the wildlife than human consumption. They have also put of bat houses and bat nesting boxes, but so far have not attracted any bats.
They have also landscaped the grounds that feature rose beds and a large century plant. The unmowed areas that dot the landscape are for wild flowers.
The carefully designed landfill reminds visitors that a landfill is NOT a dump.