EATON — During a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13, Sanitary Engineer Randy Gilbert approached the Preble County Board of Commissioners with the possibility of the Preble County Landfill eliminating wetlands on the grounds and purchasing replacement credits to mitigate the loss through a wetland credit program.
Through the wetland credit program, the county may purchase a tenth of an acre of wetland credit for $4,500 to close out the existing permit which required mitigation within 5 years of wetland construction, according to Gilbert.
Currently the Preble County Landfill has a wetland the county created in 2012, but Gilbert suggested the county could eliminate the wetland to provide more space for possible expansion. He said purchasing the credits would be cheaper than moving the wetland or maintaining it long term.
In a later interview, Gilbert said maintenance of a wetland involves monitoring and controlling water levels, the removal of invasive plant species, and the planting of desirable species in the wetland area.
Gilbert said the wetland was created in 2012 under the terms of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 Permit issued in 2008.
This permit required construction of a 0.05-acre wetland to replace a small wetland that was going to be disturbed by the then-pending vertical expansion of the landfill, according to Gilbert.
In the meeting last week, Gilbert noted horizontal expansion of the landfill was not being considered when the wetland was established in 2012.
The county decided to develop a 10-acre wetland instead of the required .5-acre wetland, to act as a wetland bank for the county Gilbert said.
During the meeting, Gilbert said he thought the original intention of the proposed 10 acres of wetland was to provide the Preble County Engineers Office with a wetland mitigation site for wetlands they disturbed on road projects.
He also informed commissioners to his knowledge the wetland had never been used for that purpose.
Gilbert, who joined the landfill in November 2011, said a separate permitting process is required to eliminate the new emergent wetlands. He described it as a “step-by-step process” and said “money will be involved but it is far cheaper than moving it.”
According to Gilbert, the estimated cost to purchase credits through the bank is half of the cost of moving the wetland to another location on the landfill property.
He noted, the county will need to purchase 8 acres of credits. Gilbert explained the county’s landfill is considered “poor quality” and a lower multiplier for replacement acreage would be used.
Commissioners and Gilbert both questioned why the county was being held responsible for wetlands, that according to the EPA, was not meeting standards.
“It makes no sense to me that we created a wetland that fails to meet requirements, that we must now mitigate if we want to remove it,” Gilbert stated.
Gilbert told commissioners he will speak to the landfill’s wetland consultant so he is prepared to discuss the issue further, when he attends the next monthly meeting.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062, or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.