Updated flood map by FEMA halts south Texas landfill

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LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - The company behind a project of a long-awaited landfill east of Webb County is facing another hurdle, this time from a federal entity.

FEMA recently released a new map that shows the San Juanito Creek which flows near the landfill boundary, which would now fall within a flood plain zone.

The manager of the El Pescadito Environmental Resource Center C.Y. Benavides says the project is still in the works.

Benavides says, reassures the public that the project has not been canceled and there’s been determination from FEMA to relocate part of the original firm map, which is the flood map that coincides with the property.

He says they are going to have to make some modifications to either the floodway or setting of the landfill; however, someone who lives near the area says making modifications is nothing new.

Pamela Jordan with the Citizens Against Laredo Landfill says the floodplain map brings to light some this she already knew.

Jordan says FEMA’s new findings have proven what the group has been arguing for eight years, that it’s not appropriate for a landfill.

Jordan is hoping that with this new finding, it’s going to put an end to the bad science and broken promises.

Meanwhile, Benavides does not agree and says he will not give up adding that the new project is nothing the area does not have already.

Benavides says "The same trash that currently gets deposited in the city of Laredo landfill. Exactly the same, what goes to the city's we'll be doing ourselves."

However, Jordan disagrees, saying They are not the same kind of landfill. The city does not accept disaster debris, demolition and construction debris, coal ash. None of that stuff goes to the municipal landfill."

Benavides says the community should be worried about the current landfill and the expiration date of current facilities.

Jordan says there’s already a solution. She says they already have Ponderosa, and roughly 130 years of landfill capacity.

As a result of the FEMA map revision, Webb County has sent a letter to the state’s office of administrative hearings showing the opposition to the proposed landfill as it does not meet federal nor state requirements.

Previously, the Rancho Viejo Waste Management Company sued the City of Laredo after losing a firm interested in the project; however, a federal judge ultimately ruled in favor of the city.

Management company officials say they are now waiting on the decision by the state office of administrative hearings for the direction of the project.

According to the TCEQ website, a public hearing is scheduled for July 8th through the 19th.