The Authority has a sanitary landfill, not a dump! A dump is an unregulated hole in the ground that people throw trash into. What makes the Authority's landfills sanitary is a sophisticated liner system. The system is made up of thick plastic and clay that protect the land and water below. The Authority currently operates a Class I (garbage and ash) and a Class III (non-combustible material).
Have you ever had your garbage drip on you? That liquid is called leachate. Imagine if it rained on a pile of garbage bags in a dumpster and they leaked. This is similar to what might happen in a landfill. There would be a pool of leachate at the bottom. A leachate collection system removes this "garbage juice" and keeps it from entering our groundwater.
Once the liners and collection system are in place, we start placing trash into cells that are about 10 acres each. Think of a landfill like a lasagna with layers of garbage or ash and a daily cover of approved materials. We build up layers until the landfill reaches about 160 feet above sea level. When a landfill cell reaches capacity, a plastic layer is put on top to cap it and make sure nothing gets in or out. After it’s capped off, we grow grass on it and move on to the next cell.
Do you know what happens to a landfill after it’s entirely capped off and closed? In Palm Beach County, we give it back to you — the residents! We turn closed landfills into things like a park or a golf course. Dyer Park is a former landfill. And if you've ever gone golfing at Park Ridge Golf Course in Lantana, you've golfed on a former landfill. But don’t worry – if you dig into the ground you won't find old banana peels, chicken bones or apple cores. And in case you’re wondering, there is no foul odor from a closed landfill.