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Gainesville Landfill Transforms Into Floodplain

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A construction truck piles up sandy soil on the perimeter of the project site. About eight inches of this is placed on the site first folowed by two feet of clean soil and sodding mats. Photo by Conor Soper.
A construction truck piles sandy soil on the perimeter of the project site. About 8 inches of soil are placed on the site followed by 2 feet of clean soil and sodding mats. Photo by Conor Soper.

A decades-old Gainesville landfill will soon be transformed into a project that aims to prevent erosion and keep waste out of the floodplains and Little Hatchet Creek, which feeds into Newnan’s Lake.

The Gainesville Public Works Department and EnviroTek Environmental and Construction Services have been remediating the landfill, which is near the Gainesville Regional Airport. It has caused erosion and affected the quality of the local water for humans and wildlife.

“This day and age, we are very cognizant of wetlands and their environmental performance as far as taking contaminates and absorbing them prior to them getting into a watershed area such as Little Hatchet Creek,” said Chip Skinner, spokesman for RTS and Public Works.

“So this is really improving that water quality not only for the citizens as the creek continues to flow through Gainesville, but also for the wildlife that count on that for their drinking water,” he said.

The $1.88-million project has been in progress since April, but the landfill has a history dating back more than half a century.

In the 1940s, the area was used as a landfill for garbage and sludge by an Air Force base that was located in Gainesville,  Skinner said. Then, in the 1960s through the early 1970s, the site was reportedly used by the city for the same garbage- and sludge-dumping purposes.

“There was some contamination from the materials that were in the landfill such as the sludge and everything because, of course, back in the ‘40s all the way through the ‘70s we didn’t have the same environmental protections that we have now,” he said.

Today, the project consists of creating diversion berms (essentially hills) and “V” ditch-down chutes that help channel water into the wetlands and nearby Little Hatchet Creek without causing further erosion, he said. The slopes also needed to be regraded so they wouldn’t be as steep and would help reduce the chance of erosion.

A completed portion of the remediation project consists of green berms sloping downhill towards the wetlands. The brown sections are coconut sodding mats with seeding that will grow from them. Photo by Conor Soper.
A completed portion of the remediation project consists of green berms sloping downhill toward the wetlands. The brown sections are coconut sodding mats with seeding that will grow from them. Photo by Conor Soper.

Before this, the workers needed to clear out trees, some of which were invasive species, project manager Betsy Waite said. The trees were then turned into mulch that was mixed into a 2-foot layer of clean topsoil and covered with a coconut sodding mat. The sodding mats help growth and keep seeding in place. This process has to be done over the area of the project.

The project should be completed this month, within two to three weeks given good weather conditions, Waite said.

“It’s not going to require a lot of long-term maintenance, which is what we expected,” she said.

The upkeep is mostly going to involve mowing.

“I’ll be long retired from the city before we have to do anything, and I’m only 45,” Skinner said. “We are not anticipating to have to do anything there for quite a few years.”

About Conor Soper

Conor is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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