On July 1, 1967, Sacramento County started operations at the Kiefer Landfill. Over these past 50 years, the way we as a society think about trash and how we handle it, like all things, has evolved. The landfill concept is not new, but with population growth and as more products are made to be disposable, landfills and their operations have become more sustainable. In fact, those sustainable practices along with other environmental provisions help ensure disposal capacity at Kiefer Landfill for another fifty years – and likely decades more after that.
For half a century, Sacramento County has handled the operations of Kiefer Landfill and ensured current best practices have been followed, reviewed, and improved, and that waste and recycling materials are handled in accordance with all laws and regulations. As understanding of the practice of landfilling waste has advanced, so have the regulations that govern those practices. The 660 acres of our disposal area has more than 117 million cubic yards total capacity and is divided into 11 modules. To date, Kiefer has placed approximately 40 million cubic yards of waste into Modules 1-3.
Kiefer Landfill keeps costs low and protects the environment in a number of ways:
- Kiefer Power Plant 1 – Methane and carbon dioxide gases emitted from decomposing waste are collected by a series of pipes installed in the trash vertically or horizontally. Collected gas is sent to the Kiefer Power Plant built in 1999 as a renewable energy source and the generated electricity is sold to SMUD. This plant generates approximately 8.3 megawatts of electricity - enough to power more than 8,900 homes and is the equivalent of taking 117,000 cars off the road. A second power plant, built in 2005, is operated by a private company and puts another 5.5 megawatts on the grid, powering approximately 5,900 more homes.
- Vegetation Control – Sheep and goats are employed to reduce vegetation and fire risk. It is considerably less expensive than mowing and the animals carefully nibble around the extensive piping and hardware that removes methane gas from the tons of garbage where traditional garden equipment and crews would struggle.
- Groundwater Treatment Plant – The groundwater in the landfill vicinity is routinely monitored. Impacted groundwater is extracted for treatment through a water treatment system that processes on average 375,000 gallons of water per day.
- Beautification and Environmental Stewards – In coordination with the Sacramento Tree Foundation and local student volunteers, 135 native oak trees were planted two years ago on the hillside that faces commuters from neighboring communities to beautify the landscape and to provide habitat for the native wildlife. Watch the video.
- Bufferlands – Since 1994, neighboring properties of Kiefer Landfill are being conserved and include the Kiefer Wetland Preserve, which is one of the largest areas set aside for vernal pools in the Sacramento Valley.
- Free Mattress Drop-Off Program – Starting at the end of 2015, this program allows residents to drop off their old mattresses to be recycled free of charge. On average, two thousand mattresses have been recycled each month – that’s 24,000 fewer discarded mattresses stacking up in our landfill each year.
“After fifty years of landfill operation by the County, residents continue to enjoy the lowest disposal rates throughout the Sacramento Region. Every day, the employees at Kiefer Landfill properly dispose of waste and diverts recyclable materials while being stewards of the environment,” said Doug Sloan, Interim Waste Management and Recycling Director.
The Kiefer Landfill employs about 40 staff and for the last 50 years has been proud to serve residents and commercial customers of Sacramento County seven days a week, 365 days per year.
1967 - Life 50 Years Ago
- In July, the Kiefer Landfill opens in Sacramento County
- The first hand-held calculator became available;
- The Beatles release Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band;
- Gasoline was 33 cents per gallon;
- The first countertop microwave oven was introduced;
- Movie tickets were about $1.25 each;
- The average house price in the US was $24,600; and
- The population of Sacramento County was ~600,000 (population now more than 1.4 million)