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Kauai considers new site for its landfill

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Kauai County has identified a site for a new landfill, replacing another proposal that was opposed by a coffee company.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho recently announced that about 120 acres of land in Maalo, 2 1/2 miles north of Lihue, is being considered for a new landfill. It would replace the existing one in Kekaha when it reaches capacity in about six years.

Carvalho said he will not pursue the original site in Umi, which had been opposed by Kauai Coffee Co. and its parent, A&B Properties.

A&B Properties said last year that the Umi site is in the middle of the coffee fields and close to its roasting facility and visitor center. Opponents said it could have adverse effects and cause production loss for the coffee company. The site is designated as "important agricultural lands," which presented a "regulatory barrier" to use it for a landfill, Carvalho said.

After several months of discussion and public meetings, the Maalo site was selected. It is described as a more central location for Kauai residents. The 32-acre Kekaha landfill is on the western side of the island.

Along with the Maalo landfill, Carvalho said, the county plans to a develop a nearby resource-recovery park, including green-waste composting, to reduce the volume of waste taken to the landfill.

Roy Oyama, president of the Kauai County Farm Bureau, who worked with county officials on the proposed plan, said the new site and the recovery park will help reduce costs for transportation and importing fertilization.

"We’re trying to keep it green," Oyama said.

A public meeting Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at King Kaumualii Elementary School will be held to discuss the new plan with the community.

The proposed Maalo site — agricultural-zoned lands owned by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources — is leased to ranchers for pasture. Grove Farm, the private landowner next to the parcel, said it is willing to work with the county to provide a site for displaced farmers.

"The prospect of taking agricultural lands out of production for the purpose of a landfill is not a preferred alternative, but unfortunately it is our only alternative," Carvalho said in a recent statement.

Carvalho said the county is considering restoring an area storm irrigation system that could open up about 1,000 additional acres of agricultural lands at Grove Farm and state-owned lands for farmers.

The island’s only landfill opened in 1993 and underwent two vertical expansions. The first took place in 1998 where the landfill was expanded to 60 feet high from 37.5 feet. In 2005, the landfill rose to 80 feet, according to Troy Tanigawa, environmental services management engineer of Kauai County’s Solid Waste Division.

A lateral expansion toward the western boundary was recently completed. Officials are planning for a second lateral expansion south. The projects will provide an additional 12 to 13 acres to the 32-acre landfill, remaining within the 64-acre property line.

Meanwhile, county officials are working on projects such as the curbside recycling pilot program in Lihue to divert waste from the landfill. The program might be extended for another six months, depending on its effectiveness, county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said.

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