State of 208: Ada County Landfill keeping up with rapid growth

Posted at 1:23 PM, Oct 11, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — Growth in Idaho has been impacting everything from education to the economy

As Idaho News 6 has reported, while this growth is happening all over the Gem State, most of it is happening in Ada County—and all that growth means a lot more trash in the Ada County Landfill.

The landfill estimates they get somewhere around 450 tons of trash each day. As the county grows, so do they; but they say they've got several programs in place to keep up with the growth, like reducing the amount of trash that goes into the landfill in the first place.

"We're looking at what ways we can keep waste out of the landfill to increase the lifespan of the landfill," explained Tom Otte, the Landfill's Deputy Director of Solid Waste. "Our newest diversion program is actually our concrete diversion program! It's a pilot program the commissioners approved just a couple of months ago."

Otte says even if the growth trends continue at this pace, they should have plenty of room.

"It looks like 2068 is when we'll be full if trends continue the way they are, we're just trying to find ways to increase our usable space," Otte explained.

The growth doesn't come without growing pains.

As the labor shortage continues to impact industries here in Idaho and across the country, many businesses are offering pay bumps and boosting benefits in order to stay competitive in a tight job market.

"Now there's a lot of competition and the demand is far exceeding the supply, so the wages and costs of these blue-collar jobs are starting to go up," explained Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson.

The Ada County Landfill says they've struggled to fill open positions. Davidson says as the county grows, they grow too--so landfill workers are crucial.

"I guess you could say it's part of our growing pains as we go through this unprecedented phase of growth. One of the consequences is we don't have enough employees to fill a lot of jobs," Davidson said. "It's putting a strain on the county, it's putting a strain on everybody so we have to be able to compete. If you want the quality of life in Ada County as you're used to, we have to fill these positions. We need to put a priority on making sure our employees stay here, they work their entire career here, and then they can retire comfortably."

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