Warren County landfill fix under construction

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL — A project underway in Warren County may solve a problem with a long-closed landfill.

Workers for Lantz Construction of Winchester on Monday continued to build a system designed to divert rainwater from the Catlett Mountain Landfill to a nearby stream.

Front Royal Town Council and the Warren County Board of Supervisors recently approved the low bid of $177,100 submitted by Lantz to build the Catlett Mountain Landfill Stormwater Conveyance System and Exposed Waste Removal project.

At the site on Catlett Mountain Road on Monday, Solid Waste Manager Mike Berry explained that new drains installed near the top of the landfill would collect rain before it could seep through the dirt cap and into the trash mound. The rain instead would flow through underground pipes and out into the nearby stream bed.

In addition to diverting rainwater, the project calls for the removal of trash that, over the years, has drifted downhill and has become exposed.

Lantz crews began working on the project in mid August. Workers installed storm drainage structures and pipe then recently began removing trash, referred to as “white goods,” from the site. Lantz should complete construction by mid October, County Administrator Douglas Stanley said Monday.

County officials learned from concerned residents that discolored water possibly was coming from the landfill and flowing into an adjacent stream at the base of the dirt-covered trash mound. Discoloration of the water and the stream came as a result of rainwater falling on the landfill, filtering through the dirt cap and then leaking out from the base.

Testing showed the leachate posed no health threats, but the Department of Environmental Quality did ask the town and county to come up with a solution that would keep water from filtering through the landfill. The DEQ would then need to approve a project the town and county leadership chose.

In early January 2006 the Board of Supervisors authorized Stanley to enter into an agreement with Joyce Engineering to respond to a warning letter from the DEQ regarding the landfill. The board limited spending at the time to $16,150 with funds from the county’s reserves.

The project has taken years to reach this point, in part because of changes in the Front Royal’s administration as well as in the elected leadership in the town and county, Stanley said. Both Town Council and the Board of Supervisors had to sign off on any project.

But one project idea that came before council and the board came with an estimated cost of more than $500,000. The high price tag caused town and county officials to go back to the drawing board.

Eventually, town and county officials chose to go with the project approved earlier this year and designed by consulting engineers Pennoni Associates.

The Catlett Mountain Landfill, owned jointly by the town and county, closed in the early 1970s. The landfill was built years before the state implemented regulations for solid-waste disposal facilities. As such, the landfill lacks many of the design elements of newer sites, most significantly a liner that would keep liquids from leaking out and into groundwater or nearby streams.

Warren County opened a new landfill but then closed that facility around 1992. Officials looked into opening a regional landfill with Page County but instead decided to have its solid waste shipped to a facility in Page County.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com