A major methane control project at the Cowlitz County Landfill is poised to be funded by Washington’s Legislature by the end of next week. Millions of dollars for other projects in the county remain up in the air.

Easily the largest chunk of new funding included in both versions of the budget is a $4.9 million that would go to Cowlitz County Public Utility District and Cowlitz County to install new methane capture technology at the county landfill.The Cowlitz County Landfill, captured on Thursday, Feb. 29 in Castle Rock. Millions in the state Legislature’s draft budgets could be approved to capture the methane produced at the landfill for energy.

Data from the Environmental Protection Agency indicates the landfill produced around 290,000 metric tons of methane from the breakdown of organic waste in both 2021 and 2022, making it one of the largest sources of methane gas in the entire state of Washington.

PUD spokeswoman Alice Dietz said the proposal would replace the current methane flaring equipment at the landfill with a series of combustion engines that would ingest and destroy methane as a renewable fuel.

“The landfill’s methane gas that is currently flared can, instead, be put to beneficial use and will provide a local source of renewable electricity estimated to power the rough equivalent of 4,500 homes per year,” Dietz said in an email.

Cowlitz County Could Be Funded Now By WA Legislature

Kalama school, Lake Sacajawea, Kelso grange

Four other projects in the county are included in both versions of the budget as of Friday. Those include funds for a pair of barrier removals on fish passages, one on Erick Creek deep in the foothills on the west side of the county and another on Goble Creek east of Rose Valley.

Some projects were only included in the capital budget by one chamber or the other. The House budget provides $1.15 million to the Vancouver-based Cascadia Technical Academy for them to open a natural learning center in Kalama, in collaboration with the Kalama School District.

Cascadia Tech Director Joan Huston told The Daily News the learning center would focus on forestry-related career education and projects, and has support from local timber and paper companies. Students from anywhere between Castle Rock and La Center would be able to attend classes at the new building.

On the Senate side, the approved budget includes $200,000 for a new irrigation pump at Lake Sacajawea Park in Longview to keep grass green in dry summer months, and $40,000 for building improvements at the Rose Valley Grange.