New aerators, fountains at landfill save money

ATLANTA – For years the biggest expense for the Montmorency-Oscoda-Alpena Solid Waste Authority has been the cost of having the landfill’s leachate hauled and treated. To help reduce the cost the landfill had a pair of two-million gallon lagoons constructed and have taken other steps which promote the evaporation of the leachate.

On Friday the landfill board approved spending $15,000 to have six new aerators and a pair of fountains placed into the lagoons to spur even more evaporation than what is occurring currently.

Administrator Sandy Cunningham said in 2011 the landfill spent $385,000 to have the leachate moved and treated. The amount dipped to $240,000 in 2012 and the commissioners have budgeted $225,000 for 2013. Cunningham said that figure is conservative and the cost to have the leachate handled should not be that much. She said the additions of new equipment and procedures have led to more leachate being treated on site.

“We have seen a significant reduction in the amount of leachate and cost for what we have been doing out there,” Cunningham said. “When the new aerators and fountains are installed we expect another reduction of about 50 percent. That’s huge.”

Alpena County Commissioner Lyle VanWormer said the more evaporation the landfill can get the more beneficial it is to the budget.

“The aerators have been a plus ever since we put them in,” VanWormer said. “The evaporation rates have been greater than what we anticipated we should save enough in about a month to recover the cost and save us money moving forward and invest more in the future.”

The vote to purchase the equipment was 5-1 with Alpena County Commissioner Cam Habermehl questioning why bids were not accepted to see if a better bargain could be found. The landfill’s bylaws say the landfill can take bids or go with a trusted retailer because it is an authority. Habermehl, however, said if the landfill doesn’t attempt to find cheaper price quotes, it isn’t being thorough enough.

“I know we have worked with this company and purchased from this company, but who is to say this is the best price,” Habermehl said. “This company isn’t the only one to sell this brand. they aren’t a manufacturer from what I understand, I’m just saying we might be able to find a better deal if we were to bid it out.”

In other business:

  • the board voted to purchase a new Caterpillar bulldozer for $300,133. The commissioners agreed to pay for it with cash out of the landfill’s fund balance instead of financing it. The landfill will save more than $42,000 by paying for the dozer in cash.
  • the March 22 landfill meeting has been canceled and rescheduled for March 29 at 9 a.m.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.