The Baker Place Road Landfill is closing Jan. 31, but that doesn't mean the landfill will be full.
Columbia County officials say a portion of the landfill will be left in case space is needed later to dispose of a large amount of debris, perhaps after a natural disaster.
Don Bartles, the landfill's director, said that between 40,000 and 50,000 yards of space might still be available at the landfill when it closes.
If reopened at a later date, that much open space, he said, could accommodate the county's current waste stream flow for about four or five months.
That said, the landfill will be capped after it closes to the public Jan. 31. Columbia County Engineer Jim Leiper said uncapping the landfill after that would be "a very concerted effort and it would be fairly costly to do that, but that's not saying that it couldn't be done under certain circumstances.''
Still, he said, having extra space available would at least offer the county an option in some sort of emergency.
"We're going to try to use up as much of that as we can between now and when we close,'' he said.
"It's good to have that capacity there just in case,'' he said.
After the Jan. 31 closing, the landfill will be capped with a thick layer of plastic, akin to the material milk jugs are made of, Mr. Leiper said. A layer of drainage material and then soil will be placed over that. Mr. Leiper said the landfill's capping will likely occur within four to six months of its closing.
Mr. Bartles said Columbia County residents should start preparing now for the closing by either making sure they have a trash hauler or being willing to transfer their trash to a privately operated transfer station on Columbia Road in Appling or to Richmond County's landfill.
Mr. Bartles said county residents also can hire private companies to pick up larger items from their homes, such as old refrigerators.
County officials are still working on a plan to create several drop points for recycling.
Mr. Bartles said that until it closes, the landfill will stick with its regular schedule: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
The landfill will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and will reopen at 6 a.m. Friday. It will close again on Saturday and reopen at 6 a.m. Monday.
Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115, or firstname.lastname@example.org.