|The Yolo County Division of Integrated Waste Management is seeking to revise the solid waste facility permit for the Yolo County Central Landfill (Landfill) in an effort to increase flexibility for developing and implementing processes and operations that would: 1) reduce waste from the Landfill; 2) reduce environmental impacts of Landfill operations; 3) decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; 4) increase the recovery of materials and energy from waste; 5) operate more efficiently and economically; and 6) extend the facility's lifespan. The proposed changes to the design and operation of the Landfill were the subject of an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been prepared (Attachment A). Changes that were analyzed in the EIR include:
Although the EIR considered all project elements identified above, it is important to note that not all projects may be developed over a 20-year term nor are they all likely to be developed concurrently. While some of the project elements identified above are new, such as the waste gasification facility, many of the project elements are revisions or improvements to existing designs and operations. For instance, the proposed increased daily permitted tonnage reflects waste streams that can benefit from new processing elements, effects of population increase, and/or accommodations for peak days/months that have higher tonnage of certain waste streams that can be processed at the Landfill. The proposed increased permitted tonnage is not meant to increase landfill disposal.
- Increasing daily permitted tonnage from 1,800 tons per day to a monthly average of 2,500 tons per day with a daily peak of 3,000 tons per day;
- Construction and operation of a wood pellet facility that would utilize biomass fuel (i.e., wood, woody fraction of green waste, compost overs) to create pellets as an energy source that could be sold;
- Installing a large scale floating solar photovoltaic system on wastewater ponds to address energy usage and demand onsite, as well as selling electrical power offsite;
- Installation of solar photovoltaic on closed landfill units to address current and future energy usage and demand onsite;
- Construction and operation of a waste gasification facility to produce either hydrogen that would be sold and exported, or electricity that would be used onsite and sold when more electricity is produced than needed;
- Expanding biogas utilization options to add new sources, such as the biogas produced from the City of Davis Waste Water Treatment Plant digester, the anaerobic compost facility, and the existing In-Vessel Digester;
- Construction and operation of a peaking power plant that would replace the existing LFG (landfill gas) to Energy Facility;
- Installing a new Class 2 surface impoundment to store and treat leachate and liquid waste received at the Landfill;
- Construction and operation of an organic waste fertilizer facility that utilizes organic waste (compost, compost feedstock, liquid waste, and animal manures) and converts it into fertilizer;
- Updating the stormwater treatment system and discharge to treat collected storm water that would meet EPA benchmarks for discharge into Willow Slough Bypass;
- Additional groundwater pumping with possible treatment and discharge to more effectively lower groundwater under several of the closed landfill units;
- Construction and operation of a transfer station to transfer solid waste to an offsite landfill in approximately ten years;
- Future development of a non-specific off-site borrow area to meet soil needs for daily, intermediate, and final cover material;
- Construction and operation of a thermal pressure hydrolysis system; and
- Construction and operation of a biogas to methanol pilot facility.
To provide context, the Board of Supervisors received an update on the Division of Integrated Waste Management Operations Plan at its October 22, 2019, regularly scheduled meeting. This plan outlines the goals and strategies of the Division that seek to focus efforts on efficient and sustainable operations to meet growing demand and changes in environmental regulations and other mandates, while simultaneously using innovative approaches to divert waste and increase revenue to cover costs. Many of the project elements listed above, all of which were analyzed in the EIR that is before the Board's consideration today, were envisioned in this Operations Plan (Attachment C).
OVERVIEW OF THE CEQA PROCESS
In August 2020, the Department of Community Services issued a Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the EIR to responsible agencies and interested parties to commence the CEQA process. The NOP included a list of topic areas identified as resulting in potentially significant environmental impacts. A virtual public scoping meeting was held via Zoom Webinar on September 16, 2020, and one oral comment was received. The presentation prepared for the scoping meeting was also made available on the County's website. Several comment letters were received during the scoping period from interested governmental agencies, which can be found in Appendix B of the Draft EIR (Attachment A). No major concerns were raised during the scoping period.
A Draft EIR was prepared which focused primarily on the potential for direct and indirect environmental impacts of the various project elements listed above, as opposed to overall impacts of the operation of the Landfill or already-approved past projects. The project elements described and analyzed in this EIR are distinct from the projects that were the subject of the previously certified 1992 EIR and 2005 Subsequent EIR.
The Draft EIR was released for a 45-day public comment review period from Friday, July 30, 2021, through Monday, September 13, 2021, and a Notice of Availability and Special Public Meeting was issued to responsible agencies, interested parties, and property owners within 6,300 feet of the Landfill, and distributed to the Waste Advisory Committee. A virtual public meeting was held via Zoom Webinar on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, to accept comments on the Draft EIR where one member of the public submitted an oral comment. Three comment letters were received during the 45-day public review, all from state agencies, including the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Department of Conservation, and Department of Transportation. Copies of the oral comment and comment letters and the County's responses to the comments can be found in Chapter 3 (Comments and Responses) of the Final EIR in Attachment A.
The Draft EIR identified several potentially significant environmental impacts to the following environmental resource areas, most of which were found to be less than significant with the incorporation of proposed mitigation: Aesthetics/Visual; Land Use, Planning and Agriculture; Air Quality; Biological Resources; Cultural Resources and Tribal Cultural Resources; Public Health and Safety; Geology, Soils and Seismicity; Hydrology and Water Quality; Noise; and Public Services, Utilities, and Service Systems.
With the exception of two impact areas, Land Use, Planning and Agriculture and Cumulative Impacts, all other potentially significant impacts resulting from implementation of the various project elements can be reduced to less than significant levels with identified mitigation incorporated. It is worth noting that a biological assessment was conducted for the project which ultimately resulted in a project redesign in an effort to avoid potential sensitive habitat. With the project revision, all potentially significant biological impacts can be reduced to less than significant with proposed mitigation. As each project element is developed, the County will seek coverage under the Yolo HCP/NCCP as applicable.
The impact statements and proposed mitigation for each resource area listed above can be found in the Executive Summary and are analyzed in Section 3 (Environmental Setting, Impacts, and Mitigation Measures) of the Draft EIR (Attachment A). A comprehensive Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP) accompanies the Final EIR and is presented as Appendix A to the EIR.
The Draft EIR concluded that the future development of an offsite borrow area would result in the conversion of farmland (including Prime Farmland or non-prime farmland mapped as Unique Farmland or Farmland of Statewide Importance) to a non-agricultural use if the borrow site is located on agricultural land. Though mitigation is proposed to offset the loss of farmland, the impact is nonetheless significant and unavoidable, and a Statement of Overriding Consideration has been prepared for the Board's consideration which is included in the Findings of Fact in Exhibit A to Attachment B. It is important to note that no specific site has been identified and that additional environmental review would be required if a future borrow site became necessary and was located on agricultural land.
Those resource areas identified as less than significant include: Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, given that most of the project elements seek to increase waste diversion and efficiency and generate significant renewable energy and fuel resources; Wildfire; and Transportation. Of note, a transportation impact analysis was prepared to assess traffic issues resulting from changes to the Landfill's operating permit based on the potential truck and employee trips associated with the individual project elements, including the proposed increase in permitted daily vehicles and daily tonnage.
For the purposes of satisfying CEQA, the transportation analysis addressed those topics required under state statute during the transition from Level of Service based metrics to Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) based investigation. The analysis concluded that, at full build out, the project could generate up to 586 additional daily vehicle trips, 70 trips which would be made by employees commuting to and from the Landfill and 516 trips made by trucks hauling materials to and from the site. Project impacts related to conflicts with County policies that address circulation, generation of VMT, increases in hazards, and inadequate emergency access were all found to be less than significant. A more in depth discussion can be found in Section 3.13 (Transportation) of the Draft EIR (Attachment A).
Additionally, and separate from CEQA, the traffic analysis included identification of truck loadings to County Road 28H and County Road 105, and a subsequent evaluation was conducted of the existing structural section of each road which identified the relative capacity of each roadway for additional loadings. The evaluation included a summary of average daily volume for each roadway for trucks associated with each particular project element based on regional trip distribution assumptions. The Division of Integrated Waste Management is committed to ensuring the roadways impacted by additional truck trips associated with the permit revision are addressed by allocating a percentage of road damage responsibility as the project elements are developed. Division staff are collaboratively working with Public Works staff in an effort to keep the roadways near the Landfill in good condition as traffic levels increase.
In conclusion, the Department of Community Services supports the Yolo County Central Landfill Permit Revision Project as meeting several County strategic plan goals and objectives for ensuring a sustainable environment and robust economy, including the protection of groundwater quality, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and implementation of the Operational Plan, and recommends the Board of Supervisors adopt the Resolution making Findings of Fact to certify the Environmental Impact Report, adopt the Statement of Overriding Consideration, adopt the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, and approve the Project.