What is BASWA?

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Compost in a windrow and dozer parked behind it

The Beatrice Area Solid Waste Agency (BASWA) landfill is located on approximately 260 acres of land two miles south and one mile west of Beatrice.  BASWA was first created in the 1980s and has three separate forms of landfills (pre-subtitle D, Subtitle D, and Construction and Demolition) on its site. Along with three landfills, we also have an area dedicated to organic composting operations. 

One site is considered the old landfill and specified as a pre-subtitle D landfill. This type of landfill was used before the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was enacted in 1976. RCRA is the federal law that governs the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste. Landfills that were used pre-subtitle D were only lined with clay to prevent leaching to surrounding areas. After RCRA was enacted any new landfills built had to meet RCRA subtitle D classifications and be constructed with a clay subbase, a secondary liner, a primary liner of high-density polyethylene, a leachate detection zone, and have leachate drainage systems installed.  Monitoring wells for groundwater and methane were also required.

When the old landfill was completed it was capped with a clay cap, black soil, seeded with native grasses, and put into a 30-year monitoring period called post closure.

Our current subtitle D landfill covers approximately 26 acres of ground and is adjacent to the old landfill. Currently, this landfill has approximately 3 years of remaining life. Once this landfill has reached its maximum capacity it will be capped with clay and black soil, and seeded with native grasses.  Existing groundwater and methane wells surrounding the landfill will continue to be monitored quarterly for 30 years to ensure no groundwater contamination and zero methane gas migration occurs.

Once our current landfill is at capacity we will begin placing material into our new landfill which should have construction completed in the summer of 2025.  This new landfill covers approximately 80 acres of land and is expected to provide 70-80 years of landfill disposal.

In 2013, BASWA created a Construction and Demolition (C&D) Landfill. The C&D Landfill sits on approximately 160 acres and was designed to store construction debris such as concrete, asphalt, shingles, insulation, glass windows, etc. Any material that is used for construction can be landfilled here. Municipal solid waste (garbage) is strictly prohibited in this site. By creating this site we can keep construction debris out of the solid waste landfill, therefore, extending the landfill life.  This site is expected to provide up to 70 years of construction storage.

Our last site isn’t a landfill, but may be our most popular location.  Our compost is used by gardeners and farmers alike to enrich their soils and promote plant growth. Our composting site annually uses approximately 1200 wet tons of treated sludge from our wastewater treatment plant along with approximately 1500 cubic yards of wood chips and 1500 cubic yards of yard waste (grass clippings) to create our compost. Once we receive our treated sludge it is weighed and documented and then placed on our concrete mixing pad. Wood chips and yard waste are then mixed in and aerobic composting begins. Aerobic composting is the decomposition of organic matter using microorganisms. These microorganisms require oxygen to survive. As these microorganisms take in oxygen they create heat. The heat that is created is regulated in the material and maintained between 115 and 135 degrees. These high temperatures are needed to kill off harmful bacteria and pathogens.

To maintain this temperature, daily readings are taken in multiple locations along our windrow of material and recorded. Every five days our material is turned or mixed. This helps to regulate the needed heat and assist in decomposition. More yard waste (grass clippings) increases the temperatures, while more wood chips increase the oxygen levels in the compost which feeds the microbes. Each quarter samples of compost are sent off to be tested to ensure chemical and bacterial levels such as E.coli and salmonella are killed off. This sampling along with the turning of the material allows for our compost to be Class A compliant. Class A compost is material that can be land applied or given out for public use. Our compost site is regulated by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy as well as by 503 federal regulations.

BASWA’s governing board is made up of the Mayor of Beatrice, the eight Beatrice City Council members, and two Gage County Supervisors.

Jason Moore
Landfill Superintendent