Landfills in Idaho
Landfills are areas of land or excavations in which wastes are placed for permanent disposal. In the past, inadequately designed and managed landfills led to contamination of some ground water sources. Leachate was formed as rain water or snow melt filtered through waste placed in the landfills. When this liquid came in contact with buried waste, it leached chemicals or components from those wastes into ground water. In Idaho, 95% of drinking water comes from ground water, so it is very important that landfills in the state are carefully managed and regulated to ensure protection of public health and the environment.
In 1976, Congress enacted the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to regulate waste management activities nationwide. Under the act and subsequent amendments, states are allowed to develop and enforce state municipal waste management programs so long as they are substantially equivalent to, consistent with, and no less stringent than the federal program.
With passage of the Idaho Solid Waste Facilities Act (Idaho Code §39-74), Idaho received approval from EPA in September 1993 to manage municipal solid waste landfills (MSWLFs) in the state. The act prescribes municipal solid waste disposal standards and procedures and a process for the development, operation, and oversight of municipal solid waste disposal sites in Idaho. Specifically, the law incorporates RCRA standards and procedures applicable to owners and operators of MSWLFs in Idaho and outlines the roles of county, state, and health district officials in managing solid waste in the state.
Additional regulations pertaining to nonmunicipal solid waste landfills (NMSWLFs) and other solid waste management facilities, including processing facilities, incinerators, transfer stations, and conditionally exempt small quantity generator (CESQG) waste management facilities, are contained in Idaho's Solid Waste Management Rules (IDAPA 58.01.06). The rules do not apply to facilities handling wastes that are regulated by other federal or state laws or rules or to recycling centers or backyard composting.
DEQ and Public Health District Responsibilities
Under the Idaho Solid Waste Facilities Act, DEQ and Idaho's seven public health districts share responsibility for regulating solid waste management facilities in Idaho. The roles and responsibilities of each are identified in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) executed in February 2000 between DEQ and the public health districts and designed to prevent gaps and avoid duplication in services.
In a broad sense, the MOU specifies that DEQ and the health districts will work cooperatively to prepare rules, standards, technical policies, and guidelines, and to resolve violations through education, technical assistance, and enforcement action if necessary. It also defines procedures to share and disseminate information between agencies and the public and to manage complaints.
For solid waste management in particular, the MOU assigns responsibility to DEQ for ensuring that solid waste management facilities meet siting and design requirements. In this capacity, DEQ is responsible for reviewing siting and approving engineering and technical plans for solid waste management sites and other waste treatment and disposal facilities. Responsibility for ensuring that solid waste management facilities comply with operational, closure, and postclosure requirements is assigned to the public health districts. In addition, the health districts are responsible for providing regulatory oversight, including conducting routine inspections, of MSWLFs and NMSWLFs.
Municipal Solid Waste Landfills in Idaho
MSWLFs receive solid waste generated by households, hotels and motels, campgrounds, picnic grounds, and other similar facilities. They may also take in commercial and industrial solid waste in some cases and may be either publicly or privately owned and operated. Learn more.
Nonmunicipal Solid Waste Landfills
NMSWLFs only accept solid waste that is not mixed with waste generated by households or is not specifically excluded from regulation under Idaho's Solid Waste Management Rules. This type of waste may include glass, plastic, wood, roofing materials, sheetrock, and certain quantities of hazardous or pathogenic waste. NMSWLFs may be publicly or privately owned. Learn more.