Tremonton has placed new restrictions on the use of its green waste compost facility southwest of town, a move the city says is necessary because the site is taking in more material than it can handle and is being misused.
The Tremonton City Council recently approved a management plan in November for the facility, located at 8700 W. 6800 North. Opened in 2003 on 20 acres of property purchased from a private landowner, the site’s primary purpose is to compost biosolids from the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
The public has been allowed to use the facility to drop off yard clippings and other plant materials, which are chipped and mixed with the biosolids to facilitate the composting process. But over the years, the site has become a dumping ground for contractors and others who have taken advantage of the fact that it doesn’t charge tipping fees like the nearby county landfill, Tremonton City Manager Shawn Warnke said.
“Everybody got used to it as a convenient way to get rid of green waste,” Warnke said. “The problem is that we now have much more green waste than we need (for composting).
The new management plan “reminds the public why we are in the green waste business: to compost our biosolids,” he added.
Tremonton Public Works Director Paul Fulgham said people have been dumping refuse other than green waste at the site, which the city then has to take to the landfill and pay to leave it there.
“Right now there’s a lot of metal debris that comes off the stuff that is brought out there,” Fulgham said. “Once we had a freezer full of rotten meat dumped out there.”
Under the new management plan, only residents of Tremonton (and Garland, for now) are allowed to drop off green waste materials there. The city plans to hire a part-time employee to monitor the facility during operating hours, and anyone wishing to drop off materials there will need to provide proof of residency, such as a utility bill or other city-issued document.
The new plan also prohibits commercial dumping at the site and calls for the facility to be closed from Nov. 1 until May 1, although those dates can be changed at the city’s discretion and depending on the weather. The plan does not include a tipping fee, so eligible waste will still be accepted free of charge.
Fulgham said that even with an employee on site, it will be difficult to enforce the new rules because the facility is in a remote area and is not monitored most of the time, so cameras may need to be installed to catch violators.
He said green waste at the site this year accumulated to the point that there was a slash pile measuring 20 feet wide, 20 feet high and 50 yards long, and that the city already has enough plant material there to handle composting for another five to 10 years.
“At least 80 percent of what we’re dealing with out there has nothing to do with Tremonton City,” he said. “If you look at the material out there, if that was all Tremonton city, we would have very few trees left in town.”
The new policy comes after the city decided to burn the slash pile earlier this fall to reduce the volume. The resulting fire burned and smoldered for several weeks, prompting complaints from area residents that smoke from the fire was sending smoke and unpleasant smells into their homes, causing respiratory problems and other issues.
Cami Adams, who lives near the green waste site, said she has had to take her children to see a doctor because of breathing issues stemming from the smoke.
“You might not see or smell the consequences,” Adams told the city council at a recent public hearing. “I wish you could smell my coats just from walking from my house to my car.”
The city maintains that it had all the necessary permits and the burn was legal, but officials said they were concerned about the unintended consequences for people living nearby.
“The idea (of the burn) was good to begin with, but perhaps we made an error,” Tremonton Mayor Roger Fridal said. “It’s the first time it’s ever happened, and I’m sure it will never happen again.”