CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency is getting ready for the ash-killing emerald ash borer.
The agency’s board this week purchased two new pieces of equipment, a stump splitter for $29,297 and a horizontal wood grinder for $423,357, which agency officials said will equip the agency to handle the expected ash borer arrival in Linn County and the dead ash trees that will follow.
The borer has arrived in Mechanicsville in Cedar County just east of Linn County and in Waterloo in Black Hawk County and six other counties among Iowa’s 99 counties.
Local and state officials have said the ash borer likely already is in many other Iowa counties, but has not been identified there yet.
For a few years now, the city of Cedar Rapids has been removing unhealthy ash trees in the street right of way and replacing them with different species of trees so there are fewer ash trees for the ash borer to kill once it is identified in Cedar Rapids.
Bill Micheel, supervisor of the Solid Waste Agency’s Site 1 landfill, said this week that ash trees killed by the ash borer larvae can been ground into small pieces for use in mulch, incinerator fuel or compost.
The agency must show that its compost operation at Site 1 reaches a temperature of 140 degrees for four days, which is required by federal rules to show that any borer larvae are killed in the composting.
The agency also must obtain special permission to ship ground-up ash trees outside of Iowa to an incinerator in Wisconsin, Micheel said.
For now, the city of Cedar Rapids takes some of the ash trees it takes down to the Solid Waste Agency’s landfill, but the city also donates wood chips locally and provides some free at local pick-up sites, Craig Hanson, the city’s public works maintenance manager said.The Solid Waste Agency charges $18 a ton to accept yard-waste, including trees.