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Earth Friendly: Landfill plays multiple roles

By By Kate Garcia
Feb. 14, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 13, 2013 at 8:14 p.m.


One of the most fun things I remember from college psychology class was an exercise called word recognition. Basically, the professor would call out a word, and we would write down the very first word that popped into our head. I think this would be a fun thing to do with you now. I'm going to write a word and you think of the first word that pops into your mind. And no peeking until you've thought of a word.

Landfill.

After asking around, I've gotten the following responses: bacteria, garbage and smelly, among others. You'd probably be hard-pressed to find someone respond with words like revenue, methane or environmental. It's fun going to conferences and reading articles about how some of these large metropolitan areas don't have some of the more environmentally progressive practices in place. Our little Victoria has a lot to be proud of.

The landfill is a prime example. Did you know a byproduct from the biochemical breakdown of organic matter within the landfill is methane gas? This is where the word "revenue" comes in. After much careful planning, the city of Victoria has reinforced the landfill with a particular layering method to seal off any major cracks (caused by the dry Texas climate) to ensure the methane gas remains within the deeper layers for collection by the system running throughout the site.

What's so special about this methane stuff anyway? The older practices of managing methane gas produced in landfills included flaring, which means the gas would be directed to a stack located on the landfill and burned off. While operating under stringent regulations set by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, this practice was not the most environmentally ideal option. Therefore, there is now a 13-mile pipeline that diverts the methane from the landfill to a nearby plant.

It's really a win-win situation. The plant gains a fuel for a lesser expense and the city of Victoria gains revenue to support a more environmentally friendly alternative to the older practice of flaring.

As mentioned in a previous column, I am a fan of fun facts. Let's list a few to tie up this column.

The city of Victoria owns the landfill located at 18141 Farm-to-Market Road 1686, Victoria and can be reached at 361-897-1622.

The landfill is operated by Republic Services, Inc.

The Victoria landfill is the only landfill within about 100 miles of surrounding cities.

There is only a small area of "working surface" open at one time to prevent wind-swept litter.

Large mobile fences are placed according to wind direction constantly to capture any fly away material.

It's good luck if a sea gull poops on you while at the landfill.

The landfill is heavily lined to capture any harmful liquid run off or "leachate."

As you can see, the landfill serves a wonderful and diverse purpose for the city of Victoria. Now when someone mentions the word "landfill" you'll think happy thoughts.

Kate Garcia is the interim programs coordinator for the City of Victoria, Environmental Services.

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