If the landfill is not expanded, the city could be forced to ship its trash by rail to facilities hundreds of miles away, which would nearly quadruple the cost of trash disposal and likely result in a dramatic spike in trash fees, according to a city report.
"It has served the community well, but unfortunately it has its limits, and we are fast approaching those limits of the facility," said Public Works Director Steve Zurn.
The landfill — located off the Ventura (134) Freeway — also serves as a valuable source of city revenue, bringing in millions in tipping and host fees each year.
The environmental studies will focus on two expansion options for the landfill that could extend its life by up to 15 years. City officials say an expansion would keep the landfill viable as they move forward with efforts to convert waste into energy at the landfill.
"I see [the study] as a stopgap measure that will buy us the time to implement, hopefully, one of the first waste-to-energy projects in Southern California," Mayor Ara Najarian said Wednesday.
The City Council last month allocated $200,000 to fund research on emerging technologies that city officials say could help meet long-term waste-reduction goals while doubling as an energy source.
Council members have publicly supported pursuing the emerging waste-conversion technologies, which are being tapped in Europe, Japan and Canada.
Still, officials have warned that the technologies could be expensive and take years to implement. A landfill expansion will help provide enough time for research and planning.
"We're at a good time," Zurn said. "We are planning well ahead."