Orange County Branch Newsletter

August 2014

Branch News

Branch News - Coyote Canyon Landfill and Solid Waste Operations in Orange County

By: Troy Edwards, E.I.T.

In a joint event between ASCE Orange County Branch and Orange County Waste and Recycling (OCWR), OCWR gave a tour and presentation on the history, current operations, and future plans for the Coyote Canyon Landfill. Situated in Newport Beach, CA between State Route 73 (SR-73), Newport Coast Drive, and the Newport Coast communities, Coyote Canyon Landfill operated from 1963 to 1990 before being closed to receiving additional landfill. According to OCWR, the 395 acre site contains approximately 60 million cubic yards of solid waste generated from household, commercial, industrial, and agricultural sources. Currently, there is some pressure to eventually develop the site into a golf course.

Coyote Canyon Landfill contains infrastructure for the extraction and conveyance of landfill gas for use in power production. Hundreds of extraction wells are stationed throughout the landfill, and a pipeline network feeds gas from each well into larger mains across Newport Coast Drive to Gas Recovery Systems’ (GRS) gas recovery facility. OCWR mentioned that the site currently produces around 6 MW of power, or enough electricity to power roughly 1,200 homes. OCWR explained that landfill gas a different composition than natural gas (roughly 50% methane, 49% CO2, and assorted trace gases) and requires some treatment to be used for power production. One OCWR staff member highlighted the fact Coyote Canyon Landfill has the highest percentage of the state of California’s share of methane probes, over 150 of them, to detect if the gas migrates past the landfill property boundary. With Newport Coast residences built so closely to the landfill boundary, it is important to monitor the gas’s movement to protect nearby residents. Fortunately, site engineers explained there are no significant issues with groundwater or surface water contamination.


Some of the staff also went over various restoration efforts within Coyote Canyon Landfill. During the construction of SR-73, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) was required to provide California gnatcatcher habitat at the landfill site as mitigation for the project. TCA planted 122 acres of coastal sage scrub habitat for the California Gnatcatcher, and the success of these efforts is evident throughout the site. OCWR mentioned that in areas the coastal sage scrub has trouble growing they have successfully planted cacti.

After the tour of the landfill, each senior engineer for other Orange County landfill sites (Frank R. Bowerman Landfill, Olinda Alpha Landfill, and Prima Deshecha Landfill) went over the current operations at their site and future plans, such as projected closure dates. OCWR essentially has a 50-year planning period for solid waste operations, and all engineers explained currently there should be no landfill capacity issues in the foreseeable future for Orange County. 

To learn more about Coyote Canyon Landfill, OCWR’s landfill sites and landfill gas recovery programs, visit

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