The City of Driggs has contracted with a firm to get a feel for the size and scope of the landfill that’s buried under a patch of dirt east of town.
The city’s 4.6-acre property in the Driggs Area of Impact north of the Driggs Cemetery and west of the Teton County Transfer Station housed a landfill until the early 90s. The old dump was operated by Walter Reich until 1986, when the county took over management. The state health department had cited Reich for sanitation violations and he opted not to continue operating the dump, reported the Teton Valley News at the time.
Due to new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, the landfill on the Driggs property had to be vacated and buried in 1991 because it didn’t have a liquid-impervious liner or monitoring wells.
Teton County built its new landfill just east of the city property, but that dump in turn had to be shut down when the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality found it was in violation of both state and federal regulations in 2006. The county capped the landfill and opened its transfer station soon thereafter. The landfill cap was reconstructed around five years ago when it was found to be inadequate.
The Teton Regional Land Trust, in tandem with the Teton Creek Collaborative, is preparing to move forward with the Teton Creek Pathway, which will trace a route from Ski Hill Road to Stateline Road and crosses both the old and the very old closed landfills. TRLT has already sought an environmental assessment from Rocky Mountain Environmental Associates, an Idaho Falls firm that has performed several inspections of the county landfill in the past, so the city opted to avail itself of RME’s services.
“We’ve talked about actually putting that parcel to use or trading it for another piece of property,” Mayor Hyrum Johnson told the Driggs City Council last Tuesday. “Knowing what is there would dictate or affect what could be done with it.”
By digging and analyzing up to 20 pits on the city property, RME will map the extent of the buried waste and determine the nature of the debris and whether there is contamination. The cost of the investigation will not exceed $4,990, which the city will draw from its general fund. The contract does not include the cost of excavation, laboratory tests, infill material, or groundwater monitoring under the property. The county has offered up some of its excess cap material for infill, Johnson informed the council, while the Driggs public works department will perform the excavation. Per a suggestion from council member Ralph Mossman, the council authorized an additional $510 in the contract for lab tests.
Driggs community development director Doug Self said that if the city were to exchange or sell the five acres, that would support the acquisition of land for housing or parks.
“But it depends on what we find,” Self noted.