The Billy Wright Landfill, located west of Los Banos, has been upgraded. The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority (RWA) marked the completion of several projects at the Billy Wright Landfill on May 19 with a special ribbon cutting and tour of the facility.

Almost $8 million of capital improvement projects have been completed this spring at the site.

The first update to the facility that all customers will notice is the new scale house at the entrance to the site, along with two new scales for weighing both incoming and outgoing vehicles.

The previous scale house was constructed shortly after the landfill first opened in 1973, and only had one scale which had to be used by both incoming and outgoing vehicles, often leading to long wait times to enter and leave the landfill.

Work on this part of the project started a year ago and was impacted by supply chain delays of much of the materials, including the modular building.  The new scale house and outbound scale were placed into service in January 2023 and the original scale house and scale were then demolished to make room for the new incoming scale, which was completed and put into service last month.

This project also included upgrades to the recyclable and organics transfer areas, where materials collected from local jurisdictions including the Cities of Dos Palos, Gustine and Los Banos and surrounding areas within the County, are transferred from residential collection trucks to transfer trailers for delivery to processing locations outside of the area.

As part of this improvement, a fabric structure was placed over the recyclable materials to protect them from the weather and to help reduce litter, as many of the materials, such as paper and plastic, can be blown around by the wind.

Finally, construction of the next disposal cell at the landfill, called Phase 2C, was also completed this spring. Commencing in April 2022, this cell spans nearly seven acres and has over a million cubic yards of space to place waste into, providing almost three years’ worth of capacity at the landfill.

Today’s landfills require highly engineered cells, constructed with multiple layers of synthetic liner materials and soil to protect the environment. Upon completion, the local Regional Water Quality Control Board approved its use and RWA subsequently began placing waste in the cell in April 2023.

Planning has already begun for the next cell at the Billy Wright landfill, which will be needed by early 2026.

“The investments made at the Billy Wright landfill over the past year have been significant and demonstrate our Agency’s commitment to providing the highest level of service to the communities on the west side of Merced County,” said Stacie Guzman, Executive Director of MCAG and RWA.

Disposal fees apply to most material brought to the landfill, but some recycling programs accept specific items for free or a reduced rate. Both of RWA’s landfill sites in Merced and Los Banos allow for disposal of a range of items at no cost and have recycling and diversion programs for things such as mattresses, carpet, clothing, tires, e-waste, household hazardous waste and more.

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The Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority (RWA) is directed by the Merced County Association of Governments, a joint powers authority  RWA operates two regional landfills, one in Merced on North Highway 59 and one in Los Banos on Billy Wright Road.