In The Loop

Welcome to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority's Blog

Entries Tagged as Authority Projects

New Waste Transfer Building Opens in Harrisburg

November 10, 2015 ·

LCSWMA just reached a major milestone in the transformation of the former Harrisburg incinerator site, with the opening of a new 29,800 square-foot facility at the Susquehanna Resource Management Complex (SRMC) in Harrisburg. The building adds transfer, maintenance, and administrative capacity to the site.

Constructed to address operational efficiencies and improve customer experience, the $5 million transfer building will primarily be used for construction/demolition waste loads and smaller customer deliveries. This keeps residents and smaller hauling customers off the main tipping floor of the waste-to-energy plant and out of the way of larger garbage trucks. Benefits include improved traffic flow, reduced customer on-site time, and increased safety for customers and LCSWMA staff.

In addition to the new transfer building, LCSWMA has invested approximately $8.6 million in other changes at the SRMC site over the last two years. Examples include: 1) moving the main site entrance to 19th Street, 2) installation of a new scale house with separate inbound and outbound scales, 3) numerous upgrades to the waste-to-energy plant, and 4) substantial improvements to site aesthetics. These modifications not only enhanced the aesthetics of the site, but also increased site traffic flow and reduced on-site/cueing time by an average of 50 percent.

The transformation of the SRMC demonstrates both LCSWMA’s standard of excellence, as well as a commitment to restoring the site into a community asset once again.  To view photos of the transformation at the SRMC and learn more, visit www.lcswma.org/srmc

Tags: Authority Projects · SRMC

Let's Rethink Litter

November 02, 2015 ·

Each year, the City of Lancaster pays an estimated $2.1 million to clean up litter and illegal dumps. In an effort to help residents consider the impact of litter on the environment and in our community, LCSWMA and several community partners came together to bring the Litter Letter Project to Lancaster.

Established two years ago by designer and educator Rachael Hatley, the Litter Letter Project is a 3-D public art project that seeks to provoke response, thought and action regarding the impact of litter.

Since its inception in 2013, the Litter Letter Project has spread to four other states - Tennessee, Arizona, Iowa and Pennsylvania. Lancaster is the third city in Pennsylvania to adopt the concept.

Using life-size letters constructed out of chicken wire and rebar, Lancaster community groups collected litter from local streets and parks, filling each letter as a visual symbol of how littering affects neighborhoods. More than 130 bags of litter were used to fill the six-foot high letters.

The letters, installed on the front lawn of J.P. McCaskey High School, spell the word "ReTHINK" and will remain in place through November in hopes of catching people's attention and urging them not to litter. 

 

Tags: Authority Projects · Litter Abatement

Riverside Adventures

October 26, 2015 ·

Riverside Adventures
Originally published in Lancaster County Magazine 

Knowing I had to write about the trail, I thought it would be a good idea to walk it. So, on a gorgeous afternoon in late August, I asked Miss Paisley (my dog) if she’d like to go for a walk. Upon hearing the word “walk,” she made a beeline for the front door. Little did she know that our regular jaunt around the neighborhood was being replaced by a stroll along the river.

We arrived early in the afternoon to find parking at a premium. This was one busy place! I couldn’t help but notice how many people were negotiating the trail on wheels; the mode of transportation ranged from tricycles to wheelchairs. I was also struck by the number of young people – toddlers to millennials – on the trail. It was gratifying to know that Mother Nature still trumps cell phones and PCs.

Incredibly, I saw someone I knew. Jared Erb, a designer with the Custom Home Group, came whizzing by on his bike. It was his second time on the trail. “I didn’t even know it existed until I saw it on the website, traillink.com,” he explains of discovering it mid-summer. While he’s a fan of the Enola Low Grade that’s farther south, he finds the Northwest to be “the most interesting,” due to the variety it offers: river views, wooded areas, farmland, vintage photos, historical comment, and, of course, the White Cliffs of Conoy.

Jared also noticed the youthfulness of the trail’s users that day. “It is encouraging to see more and more young people out enjoying nature,” he says, adding, “I think it’s a wonderful use of tax money, and I’m glad to see the local municipalities investing in projects like this. I hope they finish it all the way up to Harrisburg.”

That is not inconceivable. Hopefully by year’s end, the entire length of the trail – 14.5 miles, stretching from Columbia to Falmouth – will be open.

The Conoy Township portion of the trail began welcoming visitors late in the summer of 2014. In anticipation of increased traffic, the American Legion’s Koser Park, where the trail can be accessed in Bainbridge, was given a facelift. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the river – or a picnic – before or after you tackle the trail. Ample parking is available and on busy days, an overflow lot is open.

The Back Story

Steve Mohr, who has been a Conoy Township supervisor for 28 of the past 30 years, grew up in Bainbridge. The river was his playground. The Mohr brothers, other family members and friends spent their free time fishing and hunting along its banks.

In the early 80s, Steve learned the bankrupt Penn Central Railroad was being ordered to liquidate its holdings. “I hated the thought of it becoming private property,” he says. “That would have ended our access to the river.” So, Steve approached his brothers and father with the idea of buying the stretch of land in Conoy Township that in places was only 80 feet wide. Initially, his father wasn’t receptive to the idea. “He wanted to know what the heck we were going to do with it,” Steve recalls. The younger Mohr explained they could share it with the public as a recreation area. His father was dubious, saying people were too busy to take the time to walk along the river. Still, he acquiesced, and the Mohrs bought the riverside acreage.

When Steve became a Conoy Township supervisor, he approached his colleagues, Bob Strickland and Joe Kauffman, with the idea of buying the riverfront that stretches north from Bainbridge to the Dauphin County line for recreational purposes. While they were receptive to the idea, they were hesitant, not knowing where the money would come from to pay for the purchase. “So, I approached [County Commissioner] Jim Huber,” Steve recalls. Commissioner Huber arranged for grant money. With the help of volunteers, a trail between Bainbridge and Falmouth was constructed. “It’s pretty primitive, but we’re going to start upgrading it next spring,” Steve says. “I’d love to see it hook a right and connect with the Conewago Trail that goes through Mt. Gretna.”

The Mohrs eventually sold their parcel to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, which in turn leased it to Conoy Township as part of the Northwest trail. “Solid Waste Management has been a good neighbor to Conoy,” Steve says. “They’ve helped us go from a poor township to one that is able to operate more freely.”

Walking Through History

The 10-foot-wide trail, which sits atop what had once been the Pennsylvania Canal (1833-1860), features a paved surface. In places, it’s immediately adjacent to tracks used by the Norfolk Southern Railway. The trail winds its way through woodland that was once the hunting grounds of the Shenks Ferry Indians, who lived in the area from the 13th to 16th centuries. Sweeping river views take in landmarks such as a series of rapids called the Haldeman Riffles. Also of note is the Haldeman Mansion, which was the boyhood home of naturalist and philologist Samuel S. Haldeman. At one point, the trail transitions into a bridge, under which the Conoy Creek spills into the Susquehanna.

Beyond that you’ll spy the remains of a once-thriving industry that entailed the production of limestone and dolomite. In 1846 John Haldeman launched a limestone quarrying business. Farmers purchased the burned limestone for fertilizing, whitewashing and plastering purposes. Steel factories utilized the dolomite to remove impurities in the metal.

In 1895 the quarry was sold to John E. Baker and George Billmyer, who added limestone crushing to the business. A company town soon took root. Called Billmyer, the town eventually grew to 1,000 residents, due in part to the fact that dolomite was in high demand during World War I. Out of that demand, the White Cliffs of Conoy emerged. Waste material from the processing of the limestone and dolomite was dumped along the river banks. “We just might be the only recreation area in the country that’s built atop an industrial waste dump,” Steve says. The trail travels along what had been Billmyer’s Main Street. Remnants of the factory (razed and salvaged in 2004) and the town – row houses, a church, a school, a store and a post office – can still be seen. Like many company towns, Billmyer didn’t have the best reputation. Still, Steve and his brothers frequently passed through Billmyer on their way to the river. “It was one of those places that if you weren’t careful, you’d find yourself in trouble,” he recalls.

Steve reports that one of the quarry’s last employees, Norman Tyson, who just celebrated his 101st birthday, now lives near the trail’s Decatur Street access in Marietta. “He often rides the trail on his scooter,” Steve says.

Billmyer’s water-filled quarry, which until recently was home to the Bainbridge Sportsmen’s Club and the Bainbridge Scuba Center, has been sold to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. The 93-acre parcel includes the 27-acre quarry. “I’d love to see it used in some recreational capacity,” Steve says.

Further downstream are a picnic grove and a clearing from which you can study eagle activity on an island in the river. A short walk then delivers you to Shocks Mill Bridge, an arched, stone, low-grade railroad bridge that was built in 1903. “It was critical to the war effort during both World Wars,” Steve says, noting that it served as this region’s Midwest connection to the East Coast. “Because of that, it was protected by armed guards during both wars,” Steve explains. In 1972, its center section was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes and was quickly replaced, enabling train traffic to continue using it. Today, it serves as a major route for transporting oil from North Dakota to points east. “It required some engineering to get the trail under and through the bridge area,” Steve remarks. “It took major cooperation and blessings among Conoy, LCSWMA, DEP, NCNR and Norfolk Southern.”

Priceless Benefits

Steve says the trail reflects the best of what government and private interests can achieve when they work together. He points to a 200-acre tract of land in East Donegal Township that was critical to the development of the trail. “We partnered with them to buy it,” he notes.

But, according to Steve, he derives the most satisfaction from seeing people use the trail. “We get visitors from all over the place, as far away as Minnesota,” he says of people he’s met over the last year. “And, it’s not just on weekends, but throughout the week. You see the same faces using it every morning and evening. I wish my mom and dad had lived long enough to see it,” he muses. He points out that last year’s frigid weather created a new venue for fans of winter sports. “We didn’t clear the path, so cross-country skiers used it, as did a person who has a dog sled.”

Local businesses are benefitting, too. “We installed bike racks, so people can leave their bikes if they want to walk over to the Bainbridge Inn or up to Gigi’s,” he says. “You know, one night I was down here, and the pavilion in the park was filled with people eating ice cream,” he says of Gigi’s specialty.

Kathy Wagner, who lives in Bainbridge and writes the Second Act column for this magazine, notices that bike riders are coming off the trail to explore the town. “A lot of people stop me to ask questions about our town,” she says. “I think it’s nice that they’re interested.”

Tags: Authority Projects · Community Recreation · In The News · Northwest Lancaster County River Trail · Trail Development

Spotlight on Solar

September 01, 2015 ·

In 2012, LCSWMA flipped the switch on a solar energy project installed at our Transfer Station Complex in Lancaster. The project includes 2,000 solar panels that reside on the roofs of the Transfer Building, Small Vehicle Drop-Off Building, Household Hazardous Waste Facility and Maintenance Building.

Collectively, these panels provide around 80% of the annual electric needs for the entire complex.

So, how does it work?

1) The sun produces a vast amount of energy though the process of nuclear fusion. The light energy produced by nuclear fusion travels 93 million miles to Earth where it can be utilized as an energy source through solar panel technology.

2) Each solar panel consists of numerous solar cells. These cells absorb the sun’s light energy through semiconductors and converts it into electrical energy. This process generates direct current (DC) electricity which is then routed to an inverter.

3) Next, the inverter converts the electricity generated by the solar panels into alternating current (AC), which is the form of electricity used in consumer appliances, lighting and heating/cooling systems. 

4) Finally, any electricity generated that is not used is fed into the utility grid where it can be used by other customers.

Last year, the solar project generated 577,816 kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough to power an equivalent of around 578 homes.

LCSWMA’s solar energy project helps to reduce our consumption and dependency on the energy grid. This project exemplifies our innovative and progressive approach to waste management and our commitment to sustainability.

To learn more about our solar energy project, view our solar energy generation live and see how the solar process works, visit our Solar Dashboard


Solar panel installation on the Transfer Building in 2012. 


Solar panels produce no pollution and cause no harmful environmental effects. 


Solar inverter boxes at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility.


View of solar panels on the Small Vehicle Drop-Off Building.  

Tags: Authority Projects · Renewable Energy · Solar Energy

CGNA is County's New Nature Spot

June 08, 2015 ·

New Chestnut Grove Natural Area is county's newest, most unique nature spot
Photo and article by Ad Crable 

Click here to read this story online.

A prairie in Lancaster County?

A $1.2 million makeover of a River Hills farm has given Lancaster County its newest and one of its most unique natural areas.

The 170-acre Chestnut Grove Natural Area near the county landfill in the River Hills of Manor Township opened to the public Saturday after an intense three-year ecological restoration effort.

The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority owns the property south of Washington Boro and converted it to a passive recreation area as part of its mission of “community sustainability.”

The entrance with a 20-space parking area is located off Chestnut Grove  Road, near its intersection with River Road in the Highville area. The natural area is open seven days a week, dawn to dusk.

Though it offers many diverse natural features, and 4.5 miles of easy-walking trails, the undulating property’s main feel is some 85 acres of open grassland — thousands of native grasses and wildflowers swaying in the wind and buzzing with cabbage butterflies and the calls of red-winged blackbirds.

“It’s very unique for Lancaster County,” says Emily West, the authority’s environmental compliance manager who has watched the spot slowly spring to life. “There are not a lot of open native grass and wildflower areas in our region so it’s a great opportunity for hiking in terms of a lot of vistas.

“It has a little bit of everything for everybody.”

Not the least of which is a new 4.5-mile trail network that not only offers excellent views of wildlife, but also a new choice of circuit hikes in the area for county residents.

For example, there is a missing link for the Lancaster County Conservancy’s Turkey Hill Trail. You  can now hike from Turkey Hill all the way to the Lancaster County Conservancy’s Safe Harbor Nature Preserve, about 6.5 miles.

Just as welcome, the natural area trails connect to the highly popular Manor Township Enola Low Grade Rail-Trail that runs along the Susquehanna between Turkey Hill and Safe Harbor.

Now, you won’t have to walk up and back where the trail dead-ends at a closed railroad bridge. You can hike on a short but steep connector trail to enjoy the Chestnut Grove Natural Area network of trails and hike back to the Turkey Hill trailhead via the new section of the Turkey Hill Trail.

On an advance tour of the natural area several days ago, authority spokeswoman Katie Sandoe was stopped in her tracks by a foreign sound — the sussuring of wind blowing softly through grasses of various heights.

“It’s so peaceful,” she marveled.

Indeed, the wide open space does seem like a place removed from the rest of what you see in Lancaster County.

Attracted to its unique habitat already, a rare sandhill crane visited for several days in December. As we walked along, we saw an indigo bunting, bluebirds and heard a Baltimore oriole.

Wildlife observation is one goal of the restoration project.

The diversity of the site doesn’t stop with the prairie-like grasslands and wildflower meadows.

This ambitious ecological restoration project also features permanent and temporary wetlands, views of the Susquehanna, River Hills forest, streams, ponds and even a stand of American chestnuts, part of the Pennsylvania Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation’s effort to restore the great American tree to the landscape someday.

Elsewhere, about 30 acres of former farmland have been planted with trees and will be allowed to grow into a forest to connect with the surrounding River Hills woods that line the Susquehanna. The newly planted trees are enclosed inside fences 7.5-feet high so deer don’t eat them.

Some 4,350 native trees and shrubs have been planted, not to mention thousands of grasses and wildflowers grown from seed.

Once cornfields and pasture owned by the Barley family and its Star Rock Farms series of properties, the dairy farm was purchased by the authority for another crop: dirt.

Between 2011 and 2012, about 7 feet of dirt was removed from about 86 acres. The 1 million cubic yards of subsoil was stockpiled and will be used as part of the authority’s proposed vertical expansion of the nearby Frey Farm Landfill.

The authority hired an ecological consultant to work with the landfill’s open space committee to restore the site to a native habitat area.

The topsoil that had been scraped off was returned to the landscape and the restoration project began. An old stone springhouse is all that remains from the farm that once included a farmhouse and farm buildings.

Besides the farm, the 170 acres of the natural area includes smaller properties the authority has purchased through the years.

Wildflowers already are blooming, but give it a couple more weeks and the area will be even more colorful, says West.

Indeed, this is a landscape in its infancy; just the beginning of an ecological awakening.

The natural area will fill in over time, get more colorful and lush. But it will take tender loving care. Invasive plants will have to be weeded out. In the absence of bison and wild fires, the prairie-like fields will have to be mowed to goose growth.

This is not a wilderness area. A large power line passes through, there are several homes on the edges and the top of the active Frey Farm Landfill and a pair of wind turbines are visible.

But it is large and diverse and the look and sounds will offer a unique and peaceful experience for those who visit.

Tags: Authority Projects · CGNA · Community Recreation · In The News · Trail Development · Wildlife

CNG Update & Anniversary

May 22, 2015 ·

A year ago this month, LCSWMA switched our fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG).

Since the project opened in May 2014, LCSWMA has experienced significant cost-savings, enjoyed superior truck performance, and helped further community sustainability by offering CNG to commercial fleets through the fast-fill station.

Cost Savings

Since making the switch to CNG, LCSWMA has saved an average of $18,300 per month in fuel costs, despite low diesel prices, for a total savings of approximately $220,000 over the past year. This significant cost savings allows us to contribute to the long-term financial stability of our Integrated System.

In addition, based on the fuel savings and grant funds received from PA DEP, LCSWMA has recovered its incremental investment on nine of the 16 trucks in the past year and is projected to pay off the incremental cost on all trucks in less than two years.

Customers

Converting our fleet to CNG required installation of fueling infrastructure at the Transfer Station Complex, including the opening of a fast-fill fueling station with four dispensers for waste haulers and other select fleets.

Today, a mix of public and private fleets are utilizing the fast-fill station. Currently, LCSWMA’s price to customers for CNG is $2.48 per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE). In the past 12 months, we’ve sold more than 30,000 gallons of fuel at the fast-fill station and expect that number to grow as we continue to add fleet customers.

Truck Performance

LCSWMA’s fleet is comprised of 14 new Peterbilt transfer trucks with Cummins-Westport ISX 12L CNG engines. The transfer trucks move waste from our Transfer Station in Lancaster to our Waste-to-Energy Facility in Bainbridge, as well as to the landfill in Conestoga. These new trucks offer engines powerful enough for each of our truck's 80,000 pound payload, operate cleanly and quietly and have had no maintenance issues.

In addition to the transfer trucks, LCSWMA also purchased two CNG dump trucks that deliver ash from our Waste-to-Energy Facility to the landfill where it is used as daily cover.

LCSWMA is proud to bring the CNG technology to our community and make the way for a future that’s more environmentally friendly and economically sound.

Fleets interested in using our retail fast-fill station should contact Michelle Marsh at 717-735-0178 for more information. 

Tags: Authority Projects · CNG · Transfer Station

Interpretive Panels Installed on the NWLCRT

January 21, 2015 ·

We are excited to share a new addition coming to the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail (NWLCRT)!  Residents and visitors can now enjoy a series of interpretive panels at various points along the trail. The panels highlight the natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources along the Susquehanna River, with topics including:

-Native American Heritage
-The Language of Science (Samuel Haldeman)
-Industrial Heritage (Billmeyer Quarry)
-Transforming Waste to Energy
-Bald Eagles
-Shock’s Mill Bridge
-Revitalizing Local Wetlands
-Vinegar’s Ferry
-Decatur Street

Five of the nine total panels have already been installed. They include panels depicting Native American Heritage, The Language of Science, Industrial Heritage, Transforming Waste to Energy and Bald Eagles. The remaining panels will be placed along the trail this spring and summer.

LCSWMA, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resource (PA DCNR), Susquehanna Riverlands and the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area (SGHA), worked with local historians to create the panels.

The NWLCRT is a 14.25-mile, multi-purpose, public recreation trail that passes through five municipalities: Columbia, West Hempfield Township, Marietta Borough, East Donegal Township and Conoy Township. Parts of the trail are also owned by LCSWMA.


Native American Heritage: Panel located on the west side of the trail, facing the Susquehanna River, north of the Conoy Creek Bridge.


Close-up of the Native American History panel. Click the photo to enlarge. 


The Language of Science: Panel located on the west side of the trail facing the Haldeman Mansion, south of the Conoy Creek Bridge. 


Close-up of The Language of Science panel. Click the photo to enlarge. 


Industrial Heritage: Panel located on the east side of the trail facing the remains of Billmeyer Quarry. 

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Close-up of the Industrial Heritage panel. Click the photo to enlarge. 


Transforming Waste to Energy: Panel located on the east side of the trail facing LCSWMA's Waste-to-Energy Facility.


Close-up of the Transforming Waste to Energy panel. Click the photo to enlarge. 


Bald Eagles: Panel located on the west side of the trail facing the bald eagle nest and Susquehanna River, in the vicinity of LCSWMA's Waste-to-Energy Facility. 


Close-up of the Bald Eagle panel. Click the photo to enlarge. 

Tags: Authority Projects · Community Recreation · Northwest Lancaster County River Trail · Trail Development

New HHW Facility and Recycling Drop-Off Container Entrance

December 19, 2014 ·

Construction is now complete on the new Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facility and Recycling Drop-Off Container entrance at LCSWMA’s Transfer Station Complex.

Now, customers entering the facility will be able to access the HHW Facility and Recycling Drop-Off Container by immediately turning right upon entering the site. This new entrance will better serve our customers by providing more space for residents delivering materials and will improve traffic flow in and out of the facility.

The Recycling Drop-Off Container will still be accessible 24 hours per day, seven days a week in the new location.

Tags: Authority Projects · HHW

Shock's Mill Bridge Opening

October 29, 2014 ·

LCSWMA and Conoy Township are pleased to announce the walkway under Shock’s Mill Bridge will officially be open for public use on Saturday, November 1st.

In close partnership with Conoy Township, LCSWMA took the lead with this project, investing more than four years on planning, design, permitting and construction efforts. The walkway cost $425,000, with LCSWMA investing $325,000 and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) providing a $100,000 grant.

“Conoy Township has been a tremendous host community for our Waste-to-Energy Facility,” says Jim Warner, LCSWMA’s CEO, “and this walkway was an opportunity for us to enhance the lives of those who live, work and visit the area with a unique trail experience that features the Susquehanna River and its beautiful corridor.”  

The 330’ long, 6’ high walkway represents a critical component of the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail (NWLCRT), connecting the sections between Bainbridge and East Donegal Township. Previously, these two sections of trail abruptly ended at an impasse, with no way around Shock’s Mill Bridge. Now pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy the trail continuously from Decatur Street in Marietta to the riverfront park in Bainbridge, a distance of 6.5 miles.

Stephen Mohr, Conoy Township Supervisor, says that the completion of walkway “addresses a major missing link of the NWLCRT.”  He reflects that his family had a vision for a river trail over three decades ago. “It took many players, much time and hard work to bring it to fruition,” says Mohr, “and if it weren't for all the folks at LCSWMA we would still be waiting. But now, it’s something for all to enjoy.”

The Southern Conoy section of the NWLCRT is approximately 3.15 miles long. Trailhead parking for this section is available at the Race Street Overlook in Bainbridge, at the East Donegal Riverfront Park on Vinegar Ferry Road and on Decatur Street in Marietta. 

The NWLCRT is a 14.25-mile, multi-purpose, public recreation trail that passes through five municipalities: Columbia, West Hempfield Township, Marietta Borough, East Donegal Township and Conoy Township. Parts of the trail are also owned by LCSWMA. The trail follows the route of the historic Pennsylvania Mainline Canal and uses some of the original towpath that remains along the corridor. This provides ample opportunities to interpret the numerous industrial archaeological remains such as abandoned canal locks; the iron furnaces at Chickies Rock and the old quarry operation at Billmeyer. The trail also connects the historic river towns and villages of Columbia, Marietta, Bainbridge and Falmouth.

  

Tags: Authority Projects · Community Events · Community Recreation

Explore Our '13 Year in Review

June 09, 2014 ·

We're excited to share LCSWMA's 2013 Year in Review with you!

Page through this report to learn how LCSWMA not only manages waste but also creates renewable energy from trash, preserves green spaces, develops recreational opportunities for the community and more. 

Click HERE to find out how LCSWMA "Made the Way by Walking It."

 

Tags: Authority Projects