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Southern Landfill tours back by demand

8 June 2005

Southern Landfill tours back by demand

The terrain is rough, the scenery is an acquired taste, and it’s not for the faint-hearted – so it might seem an unlikely place for Wellington City Council’s new hit walking tour.

But CitiOperations Manager Mike Mendonca is now planning two more tours of the Southern Landfill, on Saturday 18 June, after the first tour of the waste complex, in March, met with a good public reaction. There has also been an increase in the number of groups and clubs wanting to visit the site.

Starting with his “Be careful out there” talk, Mike will lead the parties off on their two-hour tours of the 1000 hectare site off Happy Valley Road.

First stop is Second Treasure – the Landfill recycling centre that turns over $230,000 a year selling reclaimed goods, and then it’s on to the Living Earth compost plant, where sewage sludge and green waste are turned annually into 20,000 tonnes of high-grade compost.

The treks then takes in the United Water dewatering plant and the methane flare-offs that burn the gases generated from the site. Some of the country’s landfills trap the methane as a source of energy, but walkers will hear that the Council aims instead to reduce this greenhouse gas by trying to limit the amount of green waste, wood and kitchen waste that is dumped. Getting rid of material that will decompose also prevents putrid liquids leaching into water courses.

On reaching the top of the “bund” – the earth boundary that separates the sections of compacted rubbish – the tours take visitors to the tip face. They then continue on behind the Landfill site and into the valley where native bush is regenerating. From there walkers can look back and see the diggers and compactors at work.

“What we want is for more people to dump less rubbish – and if these tours can help take that message to Wellingtonians, then we’ll be doing our job, says Environment Portfolio Spokesperson Councillor Celia Wade-Brown. “What can’t be recycled has to be compacted and buried – and that comes at a financial and environmental cost.”

Twelve intrepid walkers joined the March tour. This time Mike is aiming for 20 in each group – the maximum number he can safely escort around the site.

“Walkers will need a reasonable standard of fitness, good shoes and a jacket because the Landfill site is pretty exposed,” Mike says. He also suggests walkers pack their wallets in case they are tempted to buy at the kiosk. “People throw out some wonderful stuff – you’d be surprised.”

To make a booking for 10am or 2pm call Jeff Hodge in the landfill office on 383 4400.


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