Superior Extends WLSSD Agreement Until Landfill Closes in 2026, Raises Questions About Rates For Residents Long Term
The Superior Municipal Landfill has extended the terms of the contract with its largest user; the agreement also solidifies that the relatively low costs that Superior residents pay for garbage service will continue - at least into 2026.
The extension of the current agreement with The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District was passed by the Superior Public Works Committee during their meeting on March 2. It will need final approval by the City Council to pass.
With the terms of the deal, the largest user of Superior's landfill would be able to continue hauling garbage to the city owned site until it closes. Right now, officials with the city estimate that it will run out of room in June 2026. While there could be potential space for the landfill to expand, Superior officials have determined that they would not "seek permits for another landfill cell...and [they intend to] close the city-owned landfill permanently".
It also assures the revenue stream that the WLSSD provides - which in turn reduces overall costs for Superior residents, as detailed an the details shared in the article in the Superior Telegram [paywall]:
"WLSSD has contracted with Superior to use the city-owned landfill since 2006; the district contact pays about 80% of the cost of the annual $5 million cost to operate the landfill. Revenue from the contract has allowed the city to provide low-cost garbage collection, disposal and recycling to Superior residents."
Under terms of the new extended agreement, WLSDD will continue to haul and dispose of their garbage at the Superior landfill. The majority of conditions and rates will remain the same. One thing that is changing, though, is the "horizon date" and what sort of notification needs to be given when the city plans on ending the deal. Earlier, the city needed to provide a one year notice to WLSSD in order to terminate the agreement. That's been amended to only 10 days moving forward.
The change from one year to 10 days for the termination notice reflects the unknown and fluid capacity of the landfill. While officials have estimated and targeted June 2026 as the point that the landfill will be at capacity, that could in fact change. While "volume studies" have been consistent, if the landfill did fill up faster, the city would be able to terminate without being responsible for covering the shortfall.
The larger question that looms is what happens when the landfill closes - for both WLSSD and Superior residents. Both will need to find alternative locations to dispose of their garbage. And - that will be costly for both - primarily for Superior residents, who will no longer have the benefit of WLSSD's subsidy for collection rates.