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Mayor’s budget proposes upgrades to landfill

19-acre expansion, other improvements could extend its life by as much as 10 years

Central Maui Landfill users wait their turn to dump their junk Saturday morning. The budget proposed by Mayor Michael Victorino includes funds for a 19-acre expansion of the landfill and for another bay in the disposal area to reduce the traffic backup. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Central Maui Landfill could see a $12.5 million, 19-acre expansion along with other upgrades and new projects should Mayor Michael Victorino’s recent budget proposal be enacted.

Victorino is seeking the funds to add more space to the approximately 42 acres already permitted for disposal. This would extend the life of the landfill by approximately 10 years, according to the Department of Environmental Management’s Solid Waste Division.

The landfill’s current capacity is projected to be exhausted by March 2022.

Also in the budget proposal, Victorino is seeking $1 million to purchase 17 acres of Alexander & Baldwin property northwest of the landfill and next to county property to facilitate the Solid Waste Division’s responsibilities to handle emergency disaster debris, including receiving, processing, recycling, stockpiling and storage.

The property formerly used for agriculture also would provide the required access, drainage and infrastructure for solid waste regulatory requirements, the division said.

The two projects are among the more costly ones being sought by the administration to improve the landfill.

The Maui County Council’s Economic Development and Budget Committee is expected to begin deliberations on Victorino’s $781 million budget for fiscal 2020 at 9 a.m. Monday in Council Chambers.

The full council has until June 10 to take action on the budget, otherwise the mayor’s proposal becomes law. Fiscal year 2020 begins on July 1.

With the Central Maui Landfill capacity close to being exhausted soon, the industry standard is to have a new disposal cell available at least one year prior to running out of capacity to ensure continuity of solid waste disposal services, the division said.

The funding also would include the construction of a landfill lining system to protect the environment, leachate collection and landfill gas collection systems.

The expansion work would include state Department of Health permitting, construction and DOH-required construction quality assurance and reporting, the division said.

Depending on how long the Health Department’s permit and approval process takes, the cell could be ready in mid-2021.

Other Central Maui Landfill projects in the budget include:

• $100,000 for customer drop-off area improvements and design funding for the installation of an additional disposal bay. It is expected to reduce customer wait times and the potential for vehicle backup onto Pulehu Road.

• $50,000 in design funding for efficient traffic routing at the facility with the addition of a new lane to provide segregated lanes for residential, commercial and greenwaste customers. It is expected to alleviate backup and minimize user confusion.

And, Victorino is still working to open the Central Maui Landfill one Sunday a month; it is currently open Monday through Saturday.

As the county moves forward with upgrading and expanding the landfill, it puts into question the agreement between former Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration and Maui Recovery Facility LLC and Anaergia Services for a waste-to-renewable-fuel project. Plans had called for using the waste at the landfill for energy products.

Deadlines to build and operate a facility to conduct the conversion have been pushed back over the years. The Solid Waste Division said in an email response that issues still have to be tackled, including identifying long-term electricity or fuel off-take agreements, which impact the potential viability of the “ambitious project as a whole.”

It added that “as far as the county is aware, the company is diligently pursuing these items.”

In his inaugural address in January, Victorino said that if Anaergia can’t do what it was supposed to, “we should look around for somebody else.”

Another notable project Victorino listed in his budget presentation on March 25 is the West Maui Recycled Water System Expansion for $13.5 million.

The Environmental Management’s Wastewater Reclamation Division said this would help create a pressurized distribution system with water storage for all existing and future recycled water customers.

This phase of the project would construct elevated storage, which could be a tank and or a reservoir, upgrade the effluent pump station to deliver water to the tank and/or reservoir, and construct any necessary piping upgrades, the division said.

Additional phases would be proposed in future years to expand the distribution system to connect more customers.

The expansion would allow all customers to access recycled water 24 hours a day, the division said. Currently, customers only can get recycled water approximately four to five hours a day when it is being pumped to the Ka’anapali Golf Course reservoir.

The division said the projects have been in the pipeline for some time and are not directly related to the ongoing lawsuit against the county regarding its use of injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

In 2012, the West Maui Preservation Association, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club-Maui Group and the Surfrider Foundation sued the county over its use of injection wells saying the effluent was reaching the ocean and impacting sensitive coral reefs at Kahekili Beach.

The division said the issues raised by the lawsuit are of national importance and that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear Maui County’s case this fall.

“If the county is unsuccessful, we believe that would negatively impact the use of recycled water on land within the vicinity of the coastline, and major adjustments to the recycled water program would have to be made,” the division said in an email.

The proposed budget can be found at www.mauicounty.gov/DocumentCenter/Index/4774.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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