Landfill benefits and value to the community

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Owned and operated by the City of Kelowna, the Glenmore Landfill serves as the solid waste disposal facility for residents within the Central Okanagan Regional District. The landfill offers a variety of waste management options on site including a recycling centre and disposal of organic materials, household and commercial waste.

We may not see the landfill or even think about it on a regular basis, but it is there – an important piece of our community’s infrastructure, carefully constructed and planned – from the bottom up.

What are the benefits of the landfill to the community?

Disposal of solid waste (garbage) is critical in any community and the City of Kelowna has made progress over the years to make the Glenmore Landfill as sustainable as possible. The current fill plan allows us to extend the life of the Landfill rather than looking at new landfill locations or shipping waste out of the region for disposal – costly alternatives – and provides flexibility for the future. Disposal alternatives to the Glenmore Landfill have been estimated to cost our local residents over $400 million over the life of the landfill (based on an additional unit cost of $20 per tonne).

The value to operating the Region’s main landfill includes:

  • The necessary expense of waste management and $3 billion economic activity over the life of the landfill remains within the region, supporting jobs and local business;
  • In addition to disposal of garbage, the landfill provides a convenient and important outlet for excavated soil, necessary to support cost effective construction and development; and
  • The landfill provides local inorganic processing and recycling for products such as broken concrete, asphalt, clean wood waste, etc. at a convenient and cost effective location for residents of the region.
  • The landfill provides a stable and cost effective waste management solution over the next 70 years.

The long-term operational functioning of the Glenmore Landfill is a vital community asset, similar in scope and value to the Wastewater Treatment Facility and the Kelowna International Airport. Reduction or loss of the economic impact to the local economy of managing our own waste would be an estimated $3 billion over the remaining life of the landfill, estimated at 70 years, assuming that waste would need to leave the region for disposal. Waste management costs would rise significantly to pay for the transfer and hauling of garbage to a facility outside of the Region and the direct cost to taxpayers would be significant. Unplanned early closure would also cost in the tens of millions of dollars to cap and cover the Glenmore Landfill.

What does the landfill do?

Over the last five years, the Glenmore Landfill disposed of an average of 134,835 tonnes of waste and diverted an average of 57,928 tonnes of recoverable materials. This means that 42 per cent of waste received, was diverted.

  • Organics are composted on site and sold as the soil conditioner GlenGrow.
  • Clean dimensional lumber is supplied to a local forest products company in exchange for hog fuel that is used in the production of OgoGrow, a biosolids based compost produced at the Regional Compost Facility.
  • Painted lumber that is source separated is chipped and beneficially re-used on site as padding material for mud control.
  • Concrete and asphalt are re-used to build site roads.
  • Scrap metal is sent off to market.
  • Mattresses are deconstructed, with springs being recycled and the stuffing landfilled.
  • Composting, wood waste grinding, and site roads are watered during dry weather to help control dust.
  • Site personnel pick-up litter within the site while a contractor maintains litter removal on Glenmore Road and John Hindle Drive.
  • A variety of other nuisance controls are used at the site, including covering the garbage with soil, use of a spray-on mulch, bird control, hired pest control , berm construction, landscaping and mowing of the side slopes.  
What does the landfill do to protect the environment?

Without getting too much into the ick factor, rotting garbage produces liquid that could “leach” its way out of the landfill and this ‘leachate’ could potentially pollute the groundwater. The Glenmore Landfill has measures in place to prevent this.

Under the landfill is eight to twelve meters of natural clay that functions as the liner to keep the leachate within the landfill.  At the edges of the site, where the natural clay thins, synthetic liners are installed. Above the liner is a leachate collection system.

The leachate collection system at the Glenmore Landfill consists of perforated pipes that collect the leachate from under the landfill. Pump stations and gravity drains then feed to the leachate lift stations. Leachate is treated and aerated onsite. Odours from the aeration are further treated onsite using a specialized biofilter. The treated sewage/leachate is discharged into the municipal sanitary sewer system on Glenmore Road and is ultimately treated at the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The landfill has a significant environmental monitoring program including more than 80 ground water wells on and off site that are monitored quarterly for elevation and sampled for analysis semi-annually.  Wells are added or decommissioned based on an annual review of the program by an external consultant.  In addition to the water wells, there are five landfill gas monitoring wells. These were installed in 2016, and this network will be evaluated and expanded as required over the next two to three years.    

Sustainable energy features have been incorporated into the Landfill Administration Building. This includes earth tubes for heating or cooling the building, solar panels to heat the water, composting toilets and the use of engineered beams from pine beetle wood.

What happens to gas created by the landfill?

Composed of more than 50 per cent methane, landfill gas is an ideal energy source and is captured through a series of underground pipes called a recovery system. The Glenmore Landfill has collected landfill gas for utilization and flaring since 2005, and has installed more than 16km of landfill gas collection pipes.  

For a number of years, micro-turbines were used to create electricity in a pilot program.  When use of the micro-turbines was stopped, the City entered into an agreement with FortisBC to convert the landfill gas into a renewable natural gas that can be returned to the FortisBC pipeline and used as natural gas. While the FortisBC Biogas plant is operational, the landfill flare continues to be used as a back-up system.

What is leachate recirculation?

The landfill’s leachate recirculation system was completed in late 2017. The purpose of leachate recirculation is to collect the water from beneath the landfill which is pumped back into covered waste cells through landfill gas collection trenches. The concept is that the recirculated leachate will increase the in-situ moisture content of the waste. This would further encourage anaerobic decomposition in the buried waste cells, generating increased amounts of methane (and other landfill gases) which would result in increased throughput of landfill gas to the Fortis BC Biogas Plant.


What about wildlife?

An updated Avocet Habitat Enhancement and Rehabilitation Design was completed in 2017, The scope of the project was to assess existing and future options for alternate avocet habitat off the landfill site.

Vector (bird) control is done by using a combination of distress calls, harassment and daily cover. A falconer continues to assist in reducing the impact of nuisance birds on the landfill.

What does the landfill do about odour control?

The waste disposed at the landfill is covered with a spray-on mulch material at the end of each day and the top is covered with a layer of clean soil and wood chips as a working pad. On an ongoing basis, entire landfill “cells” will be completely covered with soil. Covering the waste as soon as possible minimizes odours. Every winter, new landfill gas lines are installed in the garbage. By installing these gas lines and actively removing the landfill gas, odours from the garbage are pulled out of the landfill and managed either by flaring or are removed in the FortisBC Biogas plant. 

In the composting area of the landfill, odours are generated when the wood chip piles being composted lose all of the oxygen and become anaerobic. To prevent this, the composting operations actively manage the windrows by watering the piles and by turning them with an excavator.  In the next three to five years, a new system will be installed called an Aerated Static Pile system. This system uses blowers to introduce the oxygen and speed up the composting process. No specialized equipment is required, compost can be made in 55 days versus 12 months and the same volume of material can be processed within a smaller footprint. 

How long will the landfill be accepting garbage?

An adaptation to the 2008 fill plan, approved in 2017, will allow the landfill to be operational for another 70 years. Updates to the 2008 fill plan allow the City to better use the current geography in the area so the landfill will continue to blend into the natural terrain of its surroundings as it grows.

When the landfill does eventually close, the areas of the landfill that are at the final elevation would be lined, covered with topsoil and revegetated.

Landfill and surrounding land development
  • The Provincial “Compost Facility Requirements Guidelines: How to Comply with Park 5 of the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation” states that the buffer zone for residential development should be a minimum of 400 to 1,000 meters.
  • The Provincial “Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste (2016)” states that there must exist a minimum buffer zone of 500 meters between the base of landfilling to “sensitive land use”, either planned or existing. While exempted from this siting criteria as the landfill existed before this criteria, it would have to be considered in the event of future lateral expansions.
  • The Landfill has, and will continue to occasionally impact adjacent properties due to nuisance from noise, odour and dust. It can also be considered a visual nuisance.  As a critical City asset expected to be operational for a minimum of 50 years, careful planning for the surrounding land uses must be carefully considered to be consistent with the operational influences of this vital civic infrastructure.  The City strives to balance future planning and evaluate the overarching community benefit of a municipal landfill with development in order to achieve the long-term community vision.