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City looks to expedite construction of new landfill cell

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The Roswell Municipal Landfill is taking measures to slow down the fill rate of the cell currently in use while the city expedites the construction on a new cell.

Cell number 4 will reach capacity in about five and a half months, according to the city’s landfill consultant, Albuquerque engineering firm Sauder, Miller and Associates, Abraham Chaparro, solid waste and facilities director, told the Roswell Daily Record.

“We did some topographical surveying in the area and our engineering consultant raised the red flag. The cell’s filing up faster than what we thought and we need to start moving quickly” on the bidding process, he said.

On Monday, the Roswell City Council members of the Infrastructure Committee, Jacob Roebuck, Margaret Kennard, George Peterson and Savino Sanchez, all voted to recommend and forward to the Finance Committee a $162,316 professional services agreement for the bidding and construction administration of Cell 5A to Sauder, Miller and Associates.

The firm has assessed the city is receiving 14,800 cubic yards of trash in the landfill per month and has 109,500 cubic yards remaining in the cell, Chaparro said.

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Cell 4 is filling up faster than anticipated, he said, for more than one reason.

The amount of refuse collected has increased since state health orders have kept more people at home, he said.

Chaparro has also been working to increase efficiency of collections since starting the job about eight months ago, he said.

“We’re becoming more efficient in how we run our routes, and our tonnage is going up as well, so it’s a little bit of both,” he said.

He said the city ending its recycling program is not a factor in the increase.

A new heavy compactor is helping to mitigate the fill rate for Cell 4, Chaparro told the Infrastructure Committee.

“The compactor came into play to help us slow that down and give us a little more time,” Chaparro said.

The Roswell City Council approved the $1.2 million purchase of the Caterpillar 836K compactor in December to replace a heavy compactor that had broken down. The landfill staff was using a light-duty compactor in its place.

“That added another almost 60,000 pounds of weight of crushing power to help us get a higher compaction rate,” Chaparro said.

The landfill is also covering the trash most days with a 100-foot by 100-foot canvas rather than a 6-inch layer of dirt. State and federal regulations require landfills to cover waste at the end of each day to control odors and prevent trash from blowing out of the landfill. Dirt will be used once or maybe twice a week, Chaparro said.

Use of the canvas was approved by the state as an alternative daily cover, Chaparro said.

Roebuck asked Chaparro and City Engineer Louis Najar if they believed the construction of the new cell could be completed before Cell 4 is filled.

Sauder, Miller and Associates was already under contract for the design of Cell 5A and expects to submit it by next week to the New Mexico Environment Department for approval, Najar said.

Bidding for the construction would likely be advertised in mid-March with bid opening at the beginning of April. Bids will go directly to the full City Council for approval at its April 8 meeting, Najar said.

“So we could get going in a hurry,” he said.

The hole for Cell 5A has already been started, Najar said, and Sauder, Miller and Associates has designed it to be constructed in two phases.

“We could probably get the first phase of the project done, certified by New Mexico Environment Department and start using it before we’re finished with the other part,” he said.

Chaparro said Cell 4 will stop being used before it reaches its capacity. When Cell 5A reaches the same elevation as Cell 4, both will be filled until they reach capacity.

Also from Monday’s Infrastructure Committee meeting:

• The committee voted unanimously to recommend for approval by the full council a resolution to complete a Water Utility Asset Management Plan within four years, a requirement to be eligible for funding from the New Mexico Water Trust Board. The committee also unanimously voted to recommend approval of repair of the Waste Water Treatment Plant Digester roof to Speir Construction, Artesia, for $153,740.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.