Residents rally as two of Gering’s proposed new landfill sites could impact Morrill

By Zach Spadt, For The Voice News - July 20, 2017

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Zach Spadt, For The Voice News

Gering - Ft. Laramie Irrigation President Rick Preston speaks during a Gering Board of Public Works meeting Monday. Preston spoke in opposition to two potential landfill sites south of Morrill during the meeting.


GERING – Talk of a potential landfill south of Morrill has area residents concerned that the irrigation system may be damaged, or worse, their drinking water could be contaminated.

“This benefits (Scottsbluff and Gering) but we’re left with the stench in our backyards. You can make your money, but we’re stuck with the mess,” Sarah Hessler said during a meeting Monday.


Hessler and about 25 other residents who could be impacted by a landfill near their homes turned out for a Gering Board of Public Works meeting Monday.


The meeting was intended to simply allocate money for the project, Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman said.


Three sites are under consideration, two of which are south of Gering.

Kaufman said he could not give the specific locations of the sites pending real estate negotiations.


Still, many who could feel the effects of the project said they need to speak up now before it is too late.


A new landfill to the south of Morrill, which currently contracts with haulers to take the town’s trash to Torrington, Wyo., would also negatively affect groundwater.


Due to the nature of the earth, it is difficult to find a suitable place to drill a well. A landfill would only add to those woes, according to Ft. Laramie - Gering Irrigation District Manager Rick Preston.


“No one doesn’t realize we need a new landfill,” Preston said. “But why do they want it in the irrigation district? Couldn’t they put it to the north?”


He continued, “We don’t need the added burden – especially with the irrigation district.”

The land along the North Platte River south of Morrill has long been used for farming. Producers rely on many of the river’s tributaries to produce hay, corn and beans. A landfill would negatively impact the effectiveness of the irrigation system.


And finding a site suitable for a well for the area is nearly impossible. With a new landfill, anyone looking to drill a new water well would be better off finding a needle in a haystack, opponents of the landfill say.


“The ground there is fractured. Well water is hard to find,” Preston said. “It doesn’t pool.

“Finding somewhere suitable for a well is a very valuable commodity.”


And now the Twin Cities are looking to build something that could taint that commodity, he fears.


Kaufman assured those at the meeting that the process is still in its preliminary stages, adding that it’s “very difficult to reveal the specific locations we’re looking at.”


“Waste is a concern in every municipality, and we’re no different,” Kaufman said. “We do not take this lightly.


“We are just starting this process ourselves. There will be more coming out.”


Kaufman’s reassurance didn’t do much to quell the concerns of the audience. Many feel that the joint venture by Scottsbluff and Gering will leave out residents who live near the town of 900.


Preston said a joint committee consisting of those impacted and Gering/Scottsbluff officials should be formed instead of allowing the two cities to go about the process unilaterally.


Unfortunately, the two cities are not legally bound to consult Morrill residents, even if the new landfill ends up in their backyards.




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