Part 1 of a series
Madera County supervisors are facing some major decisions about the future of the county’s garbage dump on Avenue 20 1/2 just off State Route 99.
The Fairmead Landfill, as it is called, is more than a place to dump and bury trash. It also is a recycling facility. It has been touted as a source of energy. It even is a paleontological dig; when new disposal cells are dug, a paleontologist from Fresno State is on hand to check for fossils, which have been dug from the landfill’s soil for some 24 years.
It also has become something of an albatross around the county’s neck. Fed up with dumping charges — or tipping fees, as they are called in the trade — that are among the highest in the Valley, the cities of Madera and Chowchilla have notified the county they will no longer dump their garbage there. That will deprive the county of half the landfill’s income, which will present the likelihood the dump will have to be subsidized. Either that, or rates for those who remain to pay tipping fees are likely to see their costs go up substantially.
The county itself doesn’t operate the landfill. The county engineering department oversees a long-standing contract with Madera Disposal Systems, Inc., which operates the dump and carries out its day-to-day activities. Madera Disposal also hauls trash in unincorporated areas of the county...