Archive for Saturday, March 26, 2005

Compost giveaway returning

2003, 2004 giveaways canceled after harmful herbicide detected

March 26, 2005


Gardeners rejoice.

After a two-year hiatus, Lawrence officials are planning another compost giveaway.

"We've had a lot of calls about it," said Diana Sjogren, a waste reduction and recycling specialist for the city. "I'm sure it'll go quickly. We're telling people to come early because when it's gone, well, it's gone."

The giveaway will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 7 and April 8, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 9 at the city's composting facility at 1420 E. 11th St.

City officials canceled giveaways in 2003 and 2004 after detecting potentially harmful levels of Clopyralid, a broadleaf herbicide often used on lawns.

Since then, most of the 2003 and 2004 supplies have been spread on city-owned property throughout the city.

"Unfortunately, Clopyralid is still in use," Sjogren said. "It's still in people's garages; old inventory is still being sold over the counter."

As old inventories are replaced, she said, Clopyralid's presence in the compost should diminish.

The compost to be given away next week -- two 120-foot-long rows, each 3-feet tall -- is left over from 2003.

"Clopyralid degrades over time, so, basically, it's OK now," Sjogren said. "There's still a trace because it's sitting there in a pile, but once you spread it on your lawn or work it into your garden, it'll go away fairly quickly."

What: Lawrence compost giveawayWhen: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 7 and 8; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 9Where: Lawrence composting facility, 1420 E. 11th St.Cost: There is no charge for the compost and people may either load their own material or have it loaded by tractor into pickup-size loads

In 2003's compost, Clopyralid was detected at a rate of 55 parts per billion. It's now below 10 parts per billion, Sjogren said.

"It's safe," she said. "If it wasn't, we wouldn't be giving it away. It's good stuff."

The compost is made from more than 9,000 tons of leaves and grass clippings collected throughout the spring, summer and fall.

A front-end loader will be available to load compost onto pickup trucks or trailers.

"Otherwise, it's bring your shovels, buckets and gloves," Sjogren said. Dump trucks will not be allowed.

Bruce Chladny, a master gardener and horticulture agent with the Douglas County Extension Service, will be there bright and early.

"My pickup truck is ready. I've got the date circled on my calendar," Chladny said. "I think it's a good deal."

Whether there's a giveaway in 2006 will depend on how much Clopyralid is detected, Sjogren said.

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