The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and property owner Andrea Weissenborn both presented to town council on June 18 regarding the current state of the Golden Landfill.
Last year, the CSRD received a letter from the Ministry of Environment (MoE) stating that a number of requirements were out of compliance for the operations there. In addition to design and performance requirements, some of these included unreported leachate surfacing from the landfill property, uncontrolled vectors and litter, wildlife attractants, and more.
The CSRD has stated it is making changes to comply with the MoE requirements since then, and will provide notification of any future emergencies to the MoE.
In addition to the environmental impacts, neighbouring property owner Andrea Weissenborn has an extra list of complaints against the CSRD for excessive litter on her property as a direct result from landfill operations, and concerns about groundwater contamination in neighbouring areas.
The CSRD presented a report to Town of Golden council outlining the groundwater well testing that was completed, and other operations at the landfill.
Town council was advised that some changes might need to be made to the landfill in the coming years, which could potentially include rezoning residential properties in the area, closing the landfill, or creating a transfer station if possible. All of the options would need to be examined carefully, and will begin with well monitoring over the next couple of years. CSRD hydrological assessments were completed at the wells, including the newest well that was drilled this year. It will use these results to determine if another well should be drilled closer to the Town of Golden to monitor possible contamination. The CSRD did discover high levels of chloride and nitrate in one of the Town’s wells, which Western Water hydrologist and the environmental consultant for monitoring systems Bryer Manwell said is likely caused by another source.
This spring, the Weissenborn family requested that the CSRD would not continue with its clean up of litter on their property. Instead, they hired a contractor, who discovered that the litter was buried beneath the surface of the soil, and hauled out thousands of pounds of garbage from the property.
“There’s layers of litter into the soil. A lot of these pieces of litter are plastic and recyclable,” Weissenborn said. “The crews found these owl pellets, and these pellets have plastic in them… It’s a reflection of what’s going into the ecosystem.”
CSRD environmental health services team leader Ben Van Nostrand says that one of the improvements the landfill completed this year was the installation of a golf-style netting, he says will help keep the litter contained.
“We have been trying to keep the litter on our side of the fence,” he added.
In the spring of this year, there hasn’t been any offsite migration of surface water, explained Manwell. The most recent well was drilled down around 500 feet, and helps the CSRD assess the groundwater flow direction, determining where any contamination would migrate.
One of the stronger suggestions from the CSRD to the Town of Golden is to create a 500-metre buffer between the landfill and sensitive land uses. Within that zone includes residential areas like Pine and Granite Drives, and could include future residential neighbourhoods.
“The reason I’m making that recommendation is so there’s no further development,” Manwell said. “We don’t want to create further issues of people being disturbed by landfill activity.”
Manwell says the best thing to do for now is monitor the existing wells, and make a decision about where would be the best location to drill offsite to determine where the groundwater migrates from the landfill.
“My suggestion is we continue to monitor at all of these locations for a two-year time prior to establishing a location to monitor offsite,” she said. “If we do establish that offiste leachate is occuring, then there should be consideration to close the site or implement leachate collection and on-site management.”
Offiste leachate could also instigate a more aggressive approach to close the existing phase of the landfill and install an engineered phase that would minimize leachate.
The CSRD hosted at meeting at the Golden Civic Centre on Tuesday, June 24 to discuss the landfill. More information will be available next week.