WAPELLO — A petition for a waiver from an administrative rule requiring the Louisa Regional Solid Waste Agency to construct a flood protection berm around the Louisa County Transfer Station in Wapello was approved Wednesday by agency members.
According to previous discussions, Federal Emergency Management Administration Flood Insurance Rate Maps were updated in 2019 and placed the LCTS within the 100-year floodplain of Otter Creek.
Under the DNR’s administrative rules, transfer stations cannot be located in a 100-year floodplain unless structures, such as a berm, are in place to prevent inundation.
Agency chair Brad Quigley and executive secretary/LCTS manager Joellen Schantz explained the waiver will allow the agency to use less expensive alternative protection measures instead of the berm, which officials had estimated could have cost about $500,000.
The waiver was suggested by Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials after they learned the berm’s high cost could have forced the LRSWA to close the transfer station.
Quigley and Schantz explained the temporary waiver will focus on a slightly elevated area east of the station’s scale house. That area will be further raised, using road ditch spoil provided by the Louisa County Secondary Road Department. The LRSWA then will locate portable roll-off containers on the site and use the containers to store the LCTS’ recycling waste, such as appliances, metal, waste oil and other material.
The containers will be removed if the area is threatened by flooding.
Schantz said the waiver will also require the LRSWA to clean the tipping building floor each night. She said a trailer already owned by the agency could be used to store those cleanings.
Since the waiver is temporary, agency members indicated the berm may still be constructed, only at a slower pace that will allow the county road department to continue to stockpile the road ditch spoil at the transfer station site.
In other action, Quigley announced he and Schantz continue to seek another truck for the LCTS. He said the additional vehicle will be needed to help comply with the floodplain waiver and also be used as a backup for the current truck.
Schantz also updated members on the agency’s current financial statement; environmental education efforts; sandpoint repairs; and other issues.
She also reported the transfer station scale recently failed and needed repair work, although initially scale company representatives had suggested a new scale was needed.
Quigley said that would have cost about $100,000, but after the local officials questioned the representatives, they eventually acknowledged the repair work will resolve the problem.
“We called their bluff and (the scale) should outlast anyone in this room,” he said.
While the scale was being repaired, Farmers Elevator & Exchange, Wapello, allowed its scale to be used to weigh out LCTS customers without charge. The agency members agreed to send a thank you card and appreciation gift to the elevator.
In final action, Schantz alerted the members to the imminent retirement of one scale house employee and pending retirement of another. She said one replacement candidate was ready to replace one of the retirees, but she was less certain about the prospects of finding another.
Although vacancy announcements have been posted online and published in local papers, Quigley asked the members to recruit anyone they felt might be interested in the position.