Fehr Graham has a long history with landfills on the southern edge of the city of Freeport. It began in 1971 when Allen Fehr, one of our founders, designed Landfills 2 and 3. We have worked with the city since to maintain and perform regular monitoring and post-closure care on the sites.
The second and third landfills were permitted together in 1973 and municipally owned and maintained until their closure in the 1980s. Landfills 2 and 3 were capped with two to three feet of clay and a layer of soil and grass. These landfills were lined in 10 feet of clay to prevent garbage from leaking. The landfills, though, weren’t impermeable and polluted the groundwater. In 2000, to lessen the impact of the contamination, the Fehr Graham team planted hybrid poplar trees, and in 2002, we added willow trees around the border of the landfill. The trees only helped remove pollutants in the clay layer because the sand and gravel layers were untouched by the roots. In 2012, our team decided to insert solar-powered leachate wells into the landfills to collect leachate and pump it to the wastewater treatment plant. We continue to monitor the groundwater quarterly as required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) permit and assess the corrective actions.
Landfill 4 was designed and permitted in 1986 under subtitle D, which required the landfill to be built with leachate collection systems, geotextile lining, collection pipes, synthetic clay liners, drainage nets and gas vents. Before we capped the landfill in 2010, we considered using poplar and willow trees instead of the traditional cap. We placed a temporary cap on the landfill and waited for a research regulation to be accepted at the state level, but the provisions weren’t favorable. Had we placed the unconventional cap - and it didn’t live up to IEPA standards - they could tell us to remove the trees and use a traditional cap. The regulation also only protected the alternative cap for 10 years, after which, the state could require we remove them and use a regular cap. We advised the city to use a traditional cap because of the risk. Our team continues to maintain and monitor the systems we installed to prevent contaminants from leaking.