Of Lewisville’s three landfills, Waste Management’s DFW Landfill is the largest. When its trucks collect the garbage from households in Lewisville and other area cities, it ends up compacted and covered in the slowly growing man-made mountain that can be seen from Hebron Parkway, just east of Railroad Street. In 2016, the landfill that some locals call “Mount Lewisville” grew by about 4,346 tons per day.
Waste Management informed the City of Lewisville last month that it will be making a formal request for the approval of an additional 52 feet of vertical height on top of the existing permitted 623 feet above mean sea level.
If approved, the change would add an additional three to five years to the landfill’s estimated seven to nine years of remaining life.
The requested change does not alter the 316-acre waste footprint or expand the pile laterally in any way.
The request comes on the heels of Lewisville’s 2016 deal with the City of Farmers Branch to allow the expansion of Camelot Landfill, which is situated just to the north of DFW Landfill, across the Elm Fork Trinity River.
The letter from Waste Management to Lewisville City Manager Donna Barron and Deputy City Manager Eric Ferris dated June 22, 2017 cited Lewisville’s deal with Farmers Branch to allow Camelot to eventually reach a maximum height of 675 feet.
Waste Management would like the same height for its DFW Landfill. “It’s just to get everybody the same level, you know so it gives us a little bit of extra life,” Waste Management Public Affairs Manager Greta Calvery said. “50 feet is really not that much at all.”
The normal ground level in that area of town is at about the 450- to 460-foot level, so the eventual height would be about 215 to 225 feet above the surrounding ground — about the height of a 20-story building.
The sides of the waste area will continue to be sloped, so the new height would be added mostly to the center. No part of the expansion would happen east of a line drawn as a buffer from a nearby Indian Creek and Coyote Ridge neighborhoods back in 1999. Calvery said that Waste Management would not be changing the buffer.
“We really want to be good neighbors,” she said.
The letter reminds Lewisville of the city’s obligations under a 2003 agreement with Waste Management that states, “Any vertical or horizontal expansion of the Landfill shall require the written approval of Lewisville, which shall not be unreasonably, nor untimely, withheld.”
“There is a provision in the existing agreement by which they could come in and modify their permit,” Ferris said, confirming the letter.
Ferris said that city staff members were still reviewing the request and would be taking it to the city council. “It’s not really in-depth, but it really starts the ball rolling for city staff to start looking at it and start doing our due diligence,” Ferris said.
Ferris said that city staff had begun to inform the council members of the request, but that there was work to do before they could present it to them formally for action. “We’ve got to look at this — we’ve got to look at the existing agreements, look at the rules and kind of weigh it out then we’ve got to give it to council, and give them a broad spectrum of options and or ideas based on many, many factors,” Ferris said.
Council member Neil Ferguson, who attends quarterly meetings between the landfill operators, city stakeholders and neighborhood representatives was there July 19 when Waste Management shared its plans with those in attendance.
Ferguson said there was much to consider with the expansion.
“As with my work to limit the Camelot landfill, and prior success to contain local gas drilling locations, the top issues are environmental — from groundwater and the Elm Fork River to air quality, VOCs, odors, and dust — balanced against the need to dispose of our household trash, and the cost and air pollution to truck it to a more distant location,” Ferguson wrote.
“I definitely want the public’s input, and I’m willing to conduct meetings to obtain it if no one else does before I make any final decision.”
Asked what Waste Management would do if the city did not approve the added height, Calvery said, “Theoretically, since they’ve already approved the other one, you know, we would think that they would approve this to be that height.”
“But if it didn’t, I mean we have a limited amount of time here. And so if they didn’t approve it, we wouldn’t go further I don’t believe — but I don’t know that for sure.”
Additional years of life for the DFW landfill could help Lewisville residents avoid an increase in the cost to haul garbage to a distant landfill, and would also provide the city with additional revenue. Waste Management pays the city a host fee for each ton of garbage tipped into the landfill. In 2018, those fees are budgeted at nearly $1.9 million.
If the city council approves, Waste Management’s next step would be to file for a permit amendment with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which is the state’s regulator for landfills.