The county commissioners adopted yesterday a 10-year plan to extend the life of Carroll's Northern Landfill by recycling liquid waste and converting building debris into road construction material.
After minor revisions, the 1999 Solid Waste Management Plan will be forwarded next month to the Maryland Department of the Environment, county officials said. The agency must approve the 271-page document before it can be implemented. The approval process is expected to take about 60 days.
"The bottom line is, we want to do things that will slow the use of the landfill's existing space or recapture some of the space," Gary Horst, the county's director of enterprise and recreation services, told the commissioners during a brief public hearing yesterday on the waste management plan.
"By using the technology that's available to us, we can extend the life of the landfill by several years," he said.
The county disposes of about 10,000 tons of solid waste each year at Northern Landfill outside Westminster -- a 90 percent decrease from two years ago. In 1997, the county began sending about 90,000 tons of waste each year to York County, Pa. Officials there burn the waste, turning it into electricity.
At the current rate of disposal, Carroll could continue to use the 200-acre landfill off Route 140 for about seven or eight years without expanding, Horst said.
The new technology could stretch its use to at least 10 years.
Horst is seeking state approval to recirculate about half of the 3 million gallons of liquid waste -- a byproduct of solid waste caused by rain -- that forms at the bottom of the landfill each year. The program, which is already in use in Southern Maryland, would free space by accelerating the natural decomposition process, Horst said.
"The cost involved in setting up the program would be minimal, about $100,000," said Horst. "It would require little more than drilling wells at a small number of points, so the [liquid waste] could be collected and put back in the landfill."
In the long run, the use of liquid waste as a natural composting material could save thousands of dollars, Horst said.
It costs about 4 cents per gallon to treat the waste, money that would be saved with the new technology.
"It would take about three or four years for us to realize the full benefit of recirculation," Horst said. "But we could recapture 30 to 50 percent of the space we've used at the landfill."
Debris finds new use
To save space, county officials are also examining a new process for handling construction and demolition debris.
Under a method proposed by Partners Quality Recycling Services Inc., tons of scarred brick, bent nails and other construction leftovers would vanish from the landfill.
The materials would be sorted and processed by the Baltimore company, then recycled into a material that would be used to build roads and parking lots.
Soil Safe Inc. of Baltimore, the sister company of Partners Quality, has been recycling construction debris for about a decade. The process is in use in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
At Northern Landfill, construction rubble is being stockpiled in hopes the process will be adopted by county officials.
"It seems like a near-term possibility," Horst said.
Officials express interest
Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Donald I. Dell expressed interest yesterday in saving space, a position that has been supported in the past by Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier.
Carroll County adopted its first solid waste management plan in 1983. It took effect in 1984. By state mandate, it is updated every three years.
While drafting the 1999 plan, county officials sought input from Carroll's eight municipalities, state and county agencies, and the public.