Construction of the proposed landfill would result in more than 30 million tons of garbage being buried nearly 500 feet high in undeveloped Gregory Canyon. That canyon contains an intermittent stream that flows into the San Luis Rey River as it flows through the site west to the ocean.
Because of its location, the garbage buried in the proposed landfill would forever threaten the critical water supplies provided by the river and the drinking water aquifers that underlie the river. Water pumped from those aquifers is used by municipalities, including the City of Oceanside, water districts, farmers, and local residents. Claims by the proponents that the proposed landfill would be engineered to ensure that no toxic leachate would leak from the proposed landfill are simply claims, and the buried garbage would remain a threat to these waters long after the operators have abandoned the site.
In addition, two major water-distribution pipelines owned by the San Diego County Water Authority cross the site next to the areas where the garbage would be buried and where millions of cubic yards of soil to cover the waste would be mined from "Borrow Pit B." These critical pipelines provide nearly 30% of all water imported to the County. The proposed landfill would threaten the integrity of those 70-year old pipelines because blasting would be needed to excavate hard rock from the proposed landfill and the borrow pit. A rupture of either pipeline would seriously disrupt County water supplies.
Construction of the proposed landfill also would result in garbage being buried high up the side of Gregory Mountain, which Native Americans call Chokla and consider sacred. The footprint of the proposed landfill also would be close to and visible from Medicine Rock, a 40-foot high rock that also is considered sacred by Native Americans. Both sites have been deemed eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Sites.
The site for the proposed landfill also is home to 39 sensitive species and within an area designated as “critical habitat” for four endangered species. It also is forage range for a pair of golden eagles, which have nested on the side of Gregory Mountain for years. The eagles would be impacted by the proposed facility and by the needed relocation of three SDG&E high-voltage transmission lines and towers on Gregory Mountain.
For these reasons, the County of San Diego repeatedly rejected Gregory Canyon as a site for a landfill. But, in 1994, project proponents funded a misleading County-wide ballot initiative that amended land-use requirements to allow the construction of the landfill. Although proponents of the initiative claimed that the landfill was needed to avoid an imminent landfill capacity crisis, no landfill “crisis” has materialized.
In fact, 20 years later, recycling and reuse have drastically reduced the amount of waste being disposed. CalRecycle data show that the annual amount of waste disposed in the County decreased 25% between 2005 and 2012, and has stayed at that level (approximately 3 million tons per year) through 2014. Data also show that County and regional landfills have sufficient capacity for decades into the future. With the expansion of the Sycamore landfill, there will be more than 120 million tons of landfill capacity in the County. And, as the state enacts more-stringent laws requiring increased recycling, especially of organic materials, and technological advances reduce the cost of reusing materials long thought of as “waste,” the need for the landfill diminishes further.
The bottom line is that the significant impacts of and threats posed by the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill far outweigh any of its claimed benefits. The project is a vestige of a fading era where materials with intrinsic value were considered waste and simply buried. Even the CEO of Waste Management, Inc. told the Wall Street Journal in a 2012 interview that in the next 10-15 years, 100% of the company’s revenues would be from the “up-use” of those materials and not from traditional waste disposal practices.
It is time to end this reckless and inappropriate project. We encourage you to explore the information on this website to find out more information showing why the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill project should be rejected. The video below provides a visual reminder of why this area is so important.