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Cass board to pick landfill option

CASS LAKE — Cass County will weigh during the next few months whether to continue sending solid waste (garbage) to a privately run landfill or whether to change to using the Crow Wing County landfill.

The county has contracted disposal services to Waste Management Services the last 10 years. The county is looking for a new 10-year contract.

Waste Management has disposed of Cass garbage at different times under the existing contract at either its landfill in Gwinner, N.D., or its Elk River landfill. Under Waste Management’s proposal for the next 10 years, the firm proposes a higher price for using the Gwinner site than the Elk River site.

Commissioners Neal Gaalswyk and Bob Kangas serve as a committee of the county board to work with the county Environmental Services Department (ESD) staff to seek written contract proposals from Waste Management and from Crow Wing County. Both vendors will be asked to provide “not to exceed pricing.”

On separate contracts, the committee expressed a preference for switching from multiple contractors who run garbage transfer stations in different parts of the county to a single contractor for all. They also want to see Cass consider coordinating recycling services with Crow Wing County, whether or not Cass decides to send garage to Crow Wing.

If Cass chooses Waste Management for garbage disposal, the county will be looking for a single rate to cover both the Elk River and Gwinner landfills.

Cass may seek a joint meeting with Crow Wing County Board before making a final decision.

Environmental services staff have investigated whether a burner facility at Perham could handle Cass garbage, but Perham does not currently have the capacity and does not have permit approvals yet to expand. Two proposed gasification plants elsewhere in the state are only in early permitting stages, with the success of that process still unproven in general use, county officials said.

The committee will report back to the full board after obtaining written contract proposals.

ESD Director John Ringle obtained board approval Tuesday to apply for a $40,000 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) grant that could be used to offer grants to individuals to match a Region 5 loan program to help people replace failing septic systems.

Homeowners who benefit from the MPCA program must be low income.

Kurt Meyer, Widseth, Smith and Nolting engineering, reported early cost estimates to create a community sewer system for the Stony Point area of Cass Lake would run about $1 million, while a similar community system, for the Sugar Point area of Leech Lake would run about $4 million. Another option at essentially the same cost for Stony Point would be connect that community to Cass Lake city sewer system.

Cass Lake Mayor Wayne LaDuke said the city favors connecting Stony Point to the city system.

Both Stony Point and Sugar Point are primarily residential communities in flat areas where the water table is high. Existing private sewer systems are failing in both, according the ESD staff.

Meyer said the next steps will be to seek funding sources for the community sewer projects.

The board accepted the lowest of three quotes received and awarded contracts to Al Nystrom Construction for $100 to inspect private sewers on Swift Lake and $125 to inspect systems on Boy Lake. A Clean Water Fund grant pays 75 percent of the cost and lake associations, the remaining 25 percent.

This is a voluntary participation program the county has offered for several years, which enables lake associations to offer free sewer inspections to homeowners on the lake in order to provide a current certificate of compliance and to identify sewers that need to be upgraded to become compliant.

Doug Schultz, Minnesota DNR fisheries, informed the board the DNR continues to purse purchasing a wetland and forested 4.2 acre parcel on Ottertail Point on Leech Lake. The site includes wild rice beds and is a spawning area for pan fish and largemouth bass.