The Soldotna Landfill is seen on June 27, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file)

The Soldotna Landfill is seen on June 27, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file)

Assembly to consider purchase of temporary, cost-saving landfill covers

4.5 million gallons of leachate are generated each year by snow and rain

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members will consider Tuesday whether or not to use $700,000 to buy and install temporary landfill covers at the Central Peninsula Landfill in Soldotna.

Citing delays in grants the borough is pursuing for a leachate concentrator, the ordinance up for consideration Tuesday says the two covers would save the borough money in the meantime.

Leachate refers to the liquid that percolates through landfills, such as from trash itself or from rain and snow that fall on trash piles and then melt. Per Cornell University’s Waste Management Institute, leachate may contain certain toxic chemicals that can threaten ground or surface water. The borough treats leachate by evaporating the liquid by burning natural gas.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Solid Waste Director Lee Frey in a July 20 memo to assembly members estimated that 4.5 million gallons of leachate are generated each year by snow and rain that falls on two of Central Peninsula Landfill’s cells. The temporary covers, which would be installed over those cells this fall, would minimize the amount of precipitation that gets into the waste underneath.

“(Central Peninsula Landfill) currently minimizes infiltration through soil covers, slopes, ditching and seeding,” Frey wrote. “While this approach is effective, it does not prevent all rain water from infiltrating.”

The covers, Frey wrote, would be in place for about two years, and are expected to save the borough about $500,000 per year in leachate management costs. It is conservatively estimated, he said, that leachate costs about $0.20 per gallon to treat.

“If temporary covers reduce leachate generation by a conservative estimate of 2.5 million gallons, it would save approximately $500,000 in leachate management costs per year,” Frey wrote. “The covers would be covering approximately 520,000 square feet of area and one inch of rain over this area is approximately 325,000 gallons of water.”

Assembly members approved the introduction of the legislation during their Aug. 1 meeting. The body will hold a public hearing and final vote on the legislation during their Tuesday meeting.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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