Swirling with concerns
The Cardwell dumpsite
Concerns of contamination, land ownership and illegal dumping surround the Cardwell dumpsite.
A few residents from the county’s northern border convinced the Madison County Solid Waste and Recycling Board on Jan. 9 to do environmental testing at the Cardwell dumpsite. The board will move forward with the testing before deciding the future of the site.
“If there are facts that say it’s a contaminate issue, I’ll be the first to say close it,” Cardwell resident Paul Shaw said.
The Cardwell dumpsite sits about 500 feet from the Jefferson River. It is about the same distance from Jefferson County on Montana Highway 359. Two pieces of private property, which Madison County does not pay to use, host the three containers and access.
“It’s an inappropriate place for a dumpsite,” MCSWRB chairman Tikker Jones said.
Madison County’s waste and recycling operates under an enterprise fund, the MCSWRB. Property owners are charged $118 a year for the 24/7 dumping service that is available to all Madison County residents. MCSWRB is responsible for the operations of 10 landfill-transfer dumpsites but does not have a system in place to enforce dumping regulations.
People come from neighboring counties to use the loosely regulated dumps of Madison County. According to Jones, the Cardwell dumpsite services around 300 Madison County residences, but its convenience attracts nearby Jefferson County residents. The containers often overflow with trash, especially in the summer when an influx Montana residents and visitors are using the dump.
Standing water often puddles in the divots around the dumpsite. It is unknown if rising ground water or poor drainage causes the water to collect.
The board proposed an alternative site at the old gravel pit, outside of Harrison. An arrangement between Madison County and Jefferson County could allow inconvenienced individuals access to the Jefferson County dump in Whitehall.
The Department of Natural Resources owns the land of the proposed site. It is on the other end of Hwy 359, less than 15 miles away, but for some, the additional mileage means longer trips to the dump.
“You know what a dump date is, don’t you,” Madison County resident Kathy Anderson said. “It’s when you take your honey to the dump and get an ice cream on the way back. It’s very big on our end of the county.”