Manatee County lowers fees for dumping of Wares Creek dirt at landfill

MANATEE -- The Manatee County Commission today OK'd a request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for lower landfill fees for disposal of material dredged as part of the Wares Creek flood control project.

Commissioners agreed to reduce county landfill tipping fee rates from $61 per ton to $36 per ton, up to a maximum of an additional 30,000 tons for some of the material dredged from the creek.

Last month, county officials learned that debris dredged from the creek was wetter in composition than had been expected, which cost more to dispose of at the county landfill.

The Corps hoped reduced fees at the county’s Lena Road landfill would keep the overall cost of the project in control without hampering operations at the landfill, according to Sia Mollanazar, deputy director, engineering services.

After decades of frustration and waiting, dredging finally began in January on the first phase of the $51.8 million Cedar Hammock-Wares Creek Flood Control project.

The project was designed to dredge 37,000 cubic yards of material from the flood-prone creek, which translates to 53,000 tons of debris by weight, Mollanazar explained.

Of the total, the Corps expected 47,000 tons to be just clean dirt, suitable for dumping at the landfill with little fuss, he said. The rest would include varying degrees of less suitable material, such as yard waste like branches, along with the least suitable material, a “black and sludgy” substance that costs more to dispose of, and is more difficult for the landfill to handle, Mollanazar said.

Engineers have found to their dismay that the situation is reversed: Much more goo is coming out of the creek than they had expected, which does not dry out as quickly.