Construction works have begun on a fourth landfill cell at the Wolumla central waste facility, with the delivery program brought forward by 12 months because of the need to dispose of some fire affected material in the existing cell 3 landfill.
In doing so council has decided to divide the remaining footprint into two cells, instead of three, to achieve overall cost savings.
When it was commissioned in 2013, the central waste facility was estimated to be able to contain our waste for 30 years but within four years, that figure had been revised back to 20 years. However council's 2017 Asset Management Plan, stated the landfill would require replacement in approximately 2030, subject to introduction of measures to reduce rates of landfill.
Cr Jo Dodds said it looked "pretty dire" given the speed at which the cells were being filled although taking the bushfire waste was the driver to open up cell 4 larger and sooner than planned.
Responding to Cr Dodds questions about the future capacity of the facility, council's director of assets and operations Anthony McMahon said council was planning ahead
"What would be required is a new development application for the site to expand further and there is planning work underway for that at the moment," he said.
In response to a question about costs from Cr Robyn Bain, Mr McMahon said that having two cells rather than three would save money but in the longer term council was likely to be in a worse position because the site was filling up quicker than predicted.
Mr McMahon explained this might lead to a review of whether waste charges were "adequately high enough" for domestic waste which is based on a service amount rather than volume.
He said that FOGO had reduced the amount of waste going to landfill and that council was trying to expand it into the commercial sector and trying to do more in recycling and consider materials recovery.
"Those things come at a cost and it is a balance between the cost of land filling that should include the cost of any potential need for land acquisition for land filling in the future, at some point, versus the cost of having those materials' recovery costs," Mr McMahon said.
Total waste to landfill has increased from approximately 19,000 tonnes in 2012 to 27,000 tonnes in 2017. The bushfires resulted in the generation of approximately 120,000 cubic metres of waste within the shire.
The new cell 4 will have around 280,000 cubic metres of available airspace and, based on current annual disposal rates, will last for approximately nine years. This cell is expected to be ready to receive waste from late October.