Clean Partial Closure Of La Crosse Landfill

Story and photos by Mike Larson, editor | September 28, 2010

An aerial view shows the massive size of the site. The demoliton-waste cell is visible at top left. The black geo-composite fabric covering the faces of the sanitary-waste cell, visible in the foreground, is waiting to be overlaid withlayers of clean fill, topsoil and grass seed. The borrow pit that will become a future cell is at top right.

Integrity Grading & Excavating, Schofield, WI, recently completed a four-month major project that completely closed a demolition-waste cell, closed in three sides of a sanitary-waste cell, and created a future sanitary waste cell at the La Crosse County, WI, landfill.

The project was part of ongoing operations at the ecologically sound landfill, which is expected to meet the area's solid-waste disposal needs for at least another 40 years.

Landfill Designed To Be Ecologically Friendly

The La Crosse County Landfill is a modern waste-disposal facility that makes use of technology to meet solid-waste disposal needs while making sure to minimize effects on local ecology.

Its cell creation and closure process was designed by consulting engineer Foth Infrastructure and Environment LLC, Green Bay, WI.

The bottoms of the site's sanitary-waste disposal cells are lined with geo-composite liner fabric before they are put into use in order to prevent garbage or liquids from seeping into the ground below.

A piping system buried in the garbage carries off the methane gas given off as the garbage decomposes. Currently, the system simply burns the methane gas, but the future may include using it for heating or power generation.

The layers of earth, geo-composite textile, and vegetation covering the completed hills of garbage are each applied in a specific order and depth to assure the waste remains enclosed throughout decomposition.

Integrity Grading & Excavating Handles Whole Project

Integrity Excavating & Grading, Inc. handled the entire project, from start to finish, performing much of the work itself and also overseeing specialty subcontractors such as landscapers.

The work began in July and finished in early November, and nearly all of the closing work was done onsteep slopes.

Integrity Grading President Allen Weinkauf, who holds a landfill operator's license, says that the company won the project based on presenting the best competitive bid.

“Understanding landfill operation was an advantage in bidding this job,” says Weinkauf, “but we bid competitively no matter what the project.”

For Integrity, that could include anything from landfill work to road construction, site preparation, grading, water-utility construction, detention ponds, environmental cleanup, snow removal, and a wide range of other projects anywhere in Wisconsin.

“One of our hallmarks is diversity,” says project manager Dan Weinkauf, who is Allen's son. “We'll work either as a project's general contractor, or as a subcontractor handling just one or two aspects of it. Our experience lets us tackle a wide variety of work, from excavation and site prep to footings and specialty projects. We've even installed synthetic football turf that's similar to the turf in Green Bay's Lambeau Field.”

Project Entails Specific Steps

On the La Crosse Landfill project, partially closing the sanitary-waste cell included installing a methane-collection system, putting down specified layers of clay, geo-composite liner fabric, fill, and topsoil to close off three sides of the active cell.

The work finished up three sides of the active sanitary-waste cell to its current vertical height of about 70 feet.

By the time the cell reaches full capacity, it will have risen about another 60 feet.

Closing the nearby cell of demolition waste required a similar process, but without the layer of geo-composite textile.

In all, the area that Integrity covered to fully close both the demolition-waste cell and partially close the sanitary-waste cell included 22 acres and used 190,000 cubic yards of various kinds of soil.

All of that soil was excavated from a future sanitary cell being created on the landfill property.

Closing The Sanitary Landfill

The first step in partially closing the sanitary landfill was grading the garbage level and working 27,000 cubic yards of grading-layer soil into it.

After that, Integrity drilled methane-collection wells down into the 70-foot-high hill of garbage and installed a system of piping and blowers that carries away the methane. That new piping system was then connected to the landfill's existing network.

Next, Integrity laid and graded a 2-foot-deep layer of clay – 35,000 cubic yards in all – to seal in the garbage.

Atop the clay, a subcontractor laid 10.7 acres of 1.57-inch- (40-millimeter)thick geo-composite fabric to seal out water, essentially building a waterproof roof over the face of the garbage pile. This layer also includes pipes designed to collect and carry away excesswater.

Over the geo-textile came the “rooting zone,” a 2.5-foot-thick layer that required 45,000 cubic yards of general fill. The fill had to be laid and graded from the bottom of the hill to the top so that bulldozers and graders never drove directly on the geo-composite textile and so the textile would remain in place.

The coverage system was topped off by 10,000 cubic yards of top soil, laid and graded in a 6-inch layer that was planted with grass to prevent erosion.

Every layer of soil was graded to the designer's specifications by Integrity's bulldozers and motor grader, many of which were equipped with GPS location and control systems.

The motor grader also frequently made a circuit to smooth out all of the service roads traveled by the steady stream of 35- and 40-ton off-road haul trucks that carried soil from the borrow pits to the hillside closing sites.

Allen Weinkauf explained, “To meet our production requirements, the haul trucks on this job were making four- to five-minute cycles and working 10 hours a day. If the roads were not kept smooth, the trucks would have to travel more slowly and the cycles would stretch to nine or 10 minutes. Having the grader maintain the roads wasessential to top production.”

Excavating the material to cover and partially close the existing cell served double duty by also creating the area for the future sanitary-waste cell that will be used when the current cell is complete.

All of the material for the entire project came right from the same site.

An unquestioned success, the La Crosse Landfill partial closure met the specified technical and ecological standards, was completed on time, and met the budget.

GPS Plays Key Role

Integrity uses GPS extensively throughout it projects, both in electronic staking, and in machine-operating controls for fine grading. The company has standardized on the Topcon system.

Says Dan Weinkauf, “GPS has been great for productivity throughout projects, right from estimating and bidding, through layout, staking, production, and final checking. We can work right from an engineer's electronic CAD files, and that saves time. Even when we use conventional wood stakes on a project, using GPS to position the stakes makes staking a one-person job and go more quickly.”

“It also saves time in final grading,” he says, “because the GPS machine controls let an operator get the fine grading right on the first pass. We routinely see accuracy to six-tenths of an inch – twice the standard required on most jobs. In addition, our foremen have GPS rovers so they can set and check grades in minutes. And we can also double-check quantities by using GPS to monitor the borrow pit.”

On the La Crosse Landfill project, the engineering firm set the project's control points and Integrity did the rest using GPS.

New Company Made Up Of Experienced Veterans

Although only three years old, Integrity Grading & Excavating is made up largely of industry veterans who each have decades of experience. President Allen Weinkauf has been in the industry for more than 30 years, and was previously president of RiverviewConstruction.

The company's other owners include Ruth Geier (VP-Finance), Mitch Dumask (VP-Operations), Dan Weinkauf (Secretary-Treasurer), and Allen's wife Kathleen (manager of WAK Leasing company), nearly all of whom have 30 years of experience in the industry and who are supported by a highly committed administrative staff.

Allen Weinkauf is quick to also attribute the company's 200-percent growth over the past three years to its excellent foremen and the experienced operators and laborers who make up the company's 65 employees.

Many of those employees are veterans who joined Integrity after working years for other construction companies.

Says Weinkauf, “We typically have five to six projects going during the summer construction season, and they can be located anywhere in the state. We continually are expanding the types of projects we work on, and our typical project size ranges from about $100,000 to $7,000,000.”

The company's current 27-unit fleet of equipment includes dozers, loaders, graders, excavators, and off-road haul trucks from major manufacturers, primarily Komatsu, Deere and Volvo. The company supplements its fleet with rental equipment as needed.

Says Weinkauf, “We have chosen to rely primarily on equipment from three major manufacturers with whom we have had excellent experience over the years, but operator input is key when we buy any new machine. After all, the operator is the person who has to work with the unit every day, so his or her opinion is really important.”

Weinkauf also says that a reliable dealer is a vital consideration, and that Roland Machinery, Nortrax, Brooks Tractor, and Aring all have established an excellent track record with Integrity's owners over their years in theindustry.

Says Weinkauf, “Things are definitely becoming more and more competitive in the business. Nearly every project is attracting about twice as many bidders as it would have just a few years ago. By continually expanding our range of capabilities, relying on our experienced people, bidding competitively, and giving customers outstanding results, we think Integrity Grading & Excavating will continue to do well.”