ORIGINALLY WRITTEN A. R. GANTZ , MARION – SOIL CONSERVATIONIST, RETIRED
Last year’s weather had both wet and dry periods. Considering how this would affect the high clay content soils around the quarry in the city limits of Marion, the feasibility of a sanitary landfill can be determined.
Consider climate, soil type and the physical condition of the limestone rock at the quarry.
Climate here consists of periods in which the rainfall is abundant followed by dry periods with no rain. The time between these events, may be a few days or may last several months.
The average precipitation for the Marion area is a little more than 32 inches per year. Six- to eight-inch variations above and below this amount are not uncommon. Thirty-two inches totals 868,934 gallons, the amount of water that falls on one acre in one year here at Marion.
The soils of the north and south hill, in Marion, are predominantly high in clay content. You could tell that in August and September, as they developed large cracks during the dry period. Some of the cracks were over two feet deep.
Clay soils swell when wet and shrink and crack when dry. The area of the quarry has the same type of soils. The abundant rain in October, resulted in little runoff where these clay soils were cracked, as much of the water went in the cracks and deep in the soil. The cracks have all but disappeared. The soil has swelled again.
This is fine for farm areas, but in a landfill it is a big problem. Every time the soil cover over the trash dries, it cracks and the next rain flows into the trash.
The major soil (Clime) at the old landfill southwest of Marion is high in clay content. This same soil is a major soil in the area around the quarry.
At the quarry, the normal process of blasting loose the limestone rock has gone on for a number of years. This forms cracks through the formation in addition to the normal seams between the rock layers. These cracks supply a ready outlet for the runoff from the quarry site and into the surrounding drains and streams in the area.
With 868,934 gallons of water falling on each acre-32 inches per year-a soil cover is needed that will direct water away from the contents of a landfill, not one that cracks and allows water to enter.
A rock quarry full of cracks is not as good a site as the site southwest of Marion. The rock there had not been blasted. The old site has been closed and the site proposed has a greater chance of failure than the old one.
I keep wondering why the residents of Marion have not had a voice in the decision for a sanitary landfill.
A few people are all excited about getting a lot of dollars and forgot the first thing is to be sure you have a feasible site.
Find a site for a landfill that is better than the one you had, not one that will prove to be a threat to the environment. The lakes and streams are a good source of water in this area. Let’s keep it that way.