90.1 FM San Luis Obispo | 91.7 FM Paso Robles | 91.1 FM Cayucos | 95.1 FM Lompoc | 90.9 FM Avila
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Estimated fire damage at Tajiguas Landfill in Santa Barbara County stands at $20 million

Tajiguas Landfill in Santa Barbara County was damaged in the Alisal Fire. Rain is expected in the area.
Lael Wageneck
SB County Public Works
Tajiguas Landfill in Santa Barbara County was damaged in the Alisal Fire. Rain is expected in the area.

The Alisal Fire burned through the Tajiguas Landfill near Gaviota last week. The facility processes trash and recycling for residents and businesses of Santa Barbara County.

Now, with the Alisal Fire almost fully contained, county workers are adding up the damages at the waste management site.

“We have the costs to repair the drainage, landfill gas collection systems and other items at the landfill, that’s around $3 million dollars; we have the biofilter that burned outside of the Materials Recovery Facility, that’s around $10 million,” Lael Wageneck said.

Wageneck is the Public information Officer for Santa Barbara County Public Works. He said the total cost for fire damage to the landfill could reach $20 million.

The $20 million figure includes repairs, and $2 million per month in lost revenue from having the site closed, as well as $500,000 per month to send the county’s trash and recycling to Ventura.

Wageneck said it will take a couple of months to get the site fully open again.

“We expect it could take about a month to bring the landfill back on line, to reopen the landfill to receive trash, but then it will take longer, up to two or three months to start receiving recycling and organic material,” Wageneck said.

He said the county is seeking assistance from state and federal funding sources including grants through FEMA, and the CDAA, which is the California Disaster Assistance Act.

With heavy rain in the forecast, Public Works crews are quickly clearing vegetation and de-silting the creek. They are also building a concrete reinforced berm to divert anything coming off the slopes above the landfill.

“We know when there’s fire followed by rain, that’s when there’s potential for flooding and debris flow,” Wageneck said.

The new ReSource Center at the Tajiguas landfill which has a recycling center and anaerobic digester was a $150 million project completed this summer. With that in mind, Wageneck said the fire damage could have been much worse.

“When you consider that it could have been $150 million, I think we’re just glad that more wasn’t damaged,” he said.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.
Related Content