The Conway City Council will vote on using about $100,000 to drill test wells at the city landfill to see if enough methane is being produced underground to fuel sanitation department trucks.

At some point over the life of a landfill, something has to be done about the methane gasses that collect underground, created by a combination of microbial digestion and chemical reactions. An uncontrolled release presents of the landfill gas, which is mostly methane, presents obvious health and safety concerns. An alternative to harvesting, purifying and using the gas for some benefit is venting it to the atmosphere and burning it in a methane "flare." 

The proposal that will be before the city council on Tuesday night would be to spend about $101,000 for testing by the Terrracon Consulting Engineers and Scientists firm to drill pilot wells that would allow the city and its sanitation department to see if enough is methane is being produced to harvest.

"At some point we’re going to be required to something with the methane," city chief of staff Jack Bell said on Monday. "If there is a quantity and a quality that can be used for a good purpose, the best-case would be to fuel our vehicles that we already have."

Another option would be to purify and store the gas to use for heating buildings in winter months, Bell said. At larger landfills, enough methane may be created to justify using the methane to boil water to turn a steam turbine electricity generator. Bell said that the cost of a turbine powerplant couldn’t be justified in Conway. 

Conway Sanitation Director Cheryl Harrington said that her department has two CNG-fueled pickup trucks and two CNG refuse trucks. Another two CNG refuse trucks are on order. Harrington estimates that it would cost about $1.7 million for landfill gas collection, purification and fueling infrastructure.

"But I go through about $900,000 a year in diesel fuel, so over the timeframe we’re looking at it will definitely be cost-saving for our department," she said.

Conway would be well-positioned to expand its fleet of CNG/methane-powered sanitation department vehicles, Bell said, because of existing CNG fueling infrastructure in the city and county associated with the Fayetteville Shale Play and Southwestern Energy’s investment in the city as a regional headquarters.

The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the District Court building at 810 Parkway Avenue.

In other business, the council will hold a public hearing to discuss the closing of a 15 foot utility easement located along the south side of Lots 1-4 in Fulmer subdivision, and will also consider:

• Resolutions requesting the Faulkner County Tax Collector place a certified lien on certain properties

as a result of incurred expenses by the City.

• Aesolution setting a public hearing to discuss the closing of a 20 foot sewer and utility easement

located in LOT 1, Coulson-RoadRunner Addition.

• A change order request (#3) for the Airport Stage 1B Grading & Drainage for Cantrell Field.

• An agreement with Enable Gas Transmission for a pipeline right of way easement and access road.

• An ordinance accepting and appropriating donation funds for the Conway Tree Board to help pay for

expenses associated with the Arbor Day celebration.

• Approving the annexation of 142 acres known as The Orchard on Round Mountain into Water District 11.

•An ordinance to rezone property located at the northeast corner of United Drive and Superior Drive from C-4 to C-3.

• Approving the bid for the dog fence installation at the Parks & Recreation Dept.

• Approving the city employee Health, Dental and Life Benefits for 2015.

• And approving the monthly financial report ending August 31, 2014.