TALKING TRASH: Proposed landfill expansion is critical to north Texas solid waste needs for next 40 years
September 1, 2012
LEWISVILLE ~ With the intent of providing for the solid waste needs for the next two generations of northern Metroplex neighbors, the City of Farmers Branch has applied for the right to expand its Camelot Landfill, located in the City of Lewisville.
The state of Texas first granted Farmers Branch a permit to operate the Camelot Landfill in, at that time, unincorporated Denton County, in 1979. Lewisville annexed the area that includes Camelot in 1987. The site is situated generally to the north of the much larger DFW Landfill, along the Lewisville/Carrollton border north of Hebron Parkway. In the 1990s, Carrollton altered zoning to permit residential development adjacent to both landfills.
The Farmers Branch application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) would expand the eventual dimensions of the Camelot landfill area by 38 acres beyond the current 198-acre waste footprint and increasing the maximum height of the landfill by 202 feet over the current permitted top of 523 feet above sea level. The DFW Landfill’s maximum permitted height is 623 feet. By comparison, the surrounding area sits at approximately 450 feet above sea level. City officials said the expansion would extend the life expectancy of Camelot to about 40 years from now.
Farmers Branch does not believe the permit request requires zoning approval from Lewisville both because the state of Texas does not specifically require it, and state law inhibits Lewisville from restricting operation of the landfill.
"Many people mistakenly believe the small mountain they see along Hebron Parkway is Camelot," said Farmers Branch Assistant City Manager Matt Benoit. "That is, in fact, DFW Landfill. Camelot is located behind it and difficult to see from most vantage points."
Mr. Benoit said that Farmers Branch certainly wants to provide for the waste needs of its own citizens but added the issue is bigger than that and encompasses the solid waste disposal needs of many communities.
"Right now, Camelot and (adjacent) DFW both have other cities that use these landfills for their citizens trash disposal," he said. "The next closest open landfill that accepts household waste from client municipalities is in far south Dallas County.
"The issue comes down to this - right now there is about a dozen years of life left on the DFW Landfill and, without expansion, Camelot will close about four years later, or 16 years from now," Mr. Benoit explained. "When both of these landfills are closed, where will those client cities take their garbage? Right now, between Famers Branch, Carrollton, Lewisville, The Colony, Grapevine, Flower Mound, Lake Dallas, Highland Village, Corinth, Double Oak, Addison and Coppell, there are nearly half a million north Texas residents that rely on these services."
He said if those cities have to transport solid waste to far south Dallas county, the fuel costs, alone, that will be passed on to residents will be staggering.
"Unless northern Metroplex residents want to see their collection fees dramatically increase, something has to be done to accommodate those needs beyond that 16 year window."
The application and review process is lengthy and will take at least a year or more.
Farmers Branch Finance Director Charles Cox said that while it is true the Camelot Landfill will generate about $1.9 million in revenue this year, it is difficult to describe that revenue as “profit.”
“Currently, those revenues go to offset the costs of operating the Solid Waste Division in Farmers Branch,” he said. “Plus, the City is liable for about $21.5 million in closure costs when Camelot reaches capacity and must be maintained by the City for 30 years after that. Over the years, we’ve managed to accumulate $6.5 million towards those closure and post-closure costs.”
Farmers Branch Solid Waste Administrator Shane Davis said that Camelot operates in strict compliance with its state-issued permit and strives to mitigate any odors caused by solid waste.
“We do not operate 24 hours a day and we do cover our waste at night,” he said. “Additionally, a big part of odors that come from a landfill can be caused by landfill gas escaping from the waste. At Camelot, we’ve taken great strides to minimize that gas escape by collecting what we can to convert to energy and burning off the rest.”
For more information, call 972.919.2597