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VALLEY FOCUS | Lake View Terrace

City May Place Golf Course on Landfill

October 12, 1998|HOLLY EDWARDS

Imagine teeing off atop a 200-foot-high pile of covered garbage surrounded by scenic views of the San Gabriel Mountains while pipes full of methane gas surge beneath your feet.

This vision could become reality if Councilman Richard Alarcon is successful in his effort to transform the defunct Lopez Canyon Landfill, now in the process of closure, into a golf course.

By the end of the month, the city Department of Public Works is expected to finish a bid proposal seeking companies interested in designing, building and operating a golf course at the site for 20 years, said Drew Sones, assistant director of solid resources management. Companies also will be asked to include the amount they are willing to pay the city to lease the Lopez Canyon property. Although there aren't any exact figures yet, Alarcon said the golf course could generate more than $1 million annually for the city.

The city also expects to generate funds by converting methane gas created by waste decomposition into electricity and then selling the power to Southern California Edison, said Lopez Canyon site engineer Ken Redd. Seven miles of existing pipeline could carry the gas to a small building containing two turbine engines that could convert the methane to electricity, Redd said.

While Alarcon called landfills "the best place for a golf course," other city and state officials point out that golf courses carry their own set of environmental concerns, particularly when constructed atop a landfill.

Irrigation of landfill sites and fertilizers and pesticides used on golf courses can increase the risk of ground water contamination, said Blythe Ponek, associate engineering geologist for the state Water Quality Control Board.

In addition, Ponek said, methane gas pipes require a great deal of repair and maintenance, and the pipes are more likely to break when placed underground, as they would be if a golf course were placed at the site. Ponek added that there is no way to completely prevent methane gas leaks from occurring through cracks in the soil as the landfill settles and decomposes.

Water quality and methane gas leaks will have to be monitored at the site for 20 to 30 years, officials said.

Ponek said: "Everything can be engineered. It's just reasonable to expect it to cost more."

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