The City Council has approved an agreement allowing for the relocation of a stream that runs through the city's landfill.
Barton Creek for many years has been a problem for the landfill because it deposits water into the garbage.The water, which becomes contaminated by hazardous chemicals and heavy metals, eventually works its way into groundwater below the landfill or re-enters the stream and is carried to the Great Salt Lake.
An environmental study in 1988 found high levels of lead, selenium, benzene and vinyl chloride - all toxic materials - were seeping into the groundwater.
"We want to get that creek out of the landfill," said City Manager Tom Hardy.
To solve the problem, the city has proposed moving the creek around to the south of the landfill, located at 1700 North and 1400 West. Before the city could proceed, though, it had to meet federal environmental protection laws pertaining to wetlands, which are habitat for migrating birds.
The agreement approved this week by the City Council will procure a "wetlands permit" for the city, which basically agrees to provide new wetlands for any wetlands it destroys by rerouting the creek.
"With our plan, we will more than compensate" for the wetlands lost, said Hardy.
The plan calls for the excavation of about 650,000 cubic yards of earth from an 83-acre plot of land south of the landfill. Barton Creek will be diverted with concrete-lined channels from the landfill to the excavation, which will serve as a sedimentation pond for the creek.
Topsoil from the excavation will be used to construct wetlands around the settling pond.
The remaining excavated material will be used to cover the landfill, a measure that is required for its eventual closure, estimated in 30 years. Covering the garbage reduces the amount of rainfall that leaches into the landfill.
Diverting the creek is estimated to cost up to $400,000. Excavating 650,000 cubic yards could cost as much as $1.3 million.
Helping to finance the projects is a $1.9 million settlement the city obtained from the five other south Davis County cities that used to bring their garbage to the landfill. Those cities have been taking their garbage to an energy recovery facility in Layton since the mid-1980s.