Landfill, compost facility report tornado debris numbers

T-R FILE PHOTO - The destruction from the July 19 tornado was plain for onlookers to see once the skies cleared and the damage was revealed. New numbers from city officials show hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of vegetative debris was brought in and processed at the Marshalltown Compost Facility in the immediate post-storm period.

The streets that once had downed trees, power poles, pieces of houses and more scattered around by the July 19 tornado have since been cleaned up, but all that waste had to go somewhere.

That’s where the Marshalltown Compost Facility and Marshall County Landfill come in. Officials from both facilities said they’ve seen huge influxes in the post-storm period, particularly at the compost center.

“The comp center … is back open under (normal) working hours,” said Marshalltown assistant civil engineer Brad Bateman.

However, during the first two weeks after the storm, he said a massive amount of tree and vegetative debris came to the center. At its peak on July 31, almost two weeks after the tornado, the brush pile reached 657,585 cubic feet in volume.

“That would’ve been the peak and then they were starting to grind that down,” Bateman said. “Each day, that pile gets smaller and smaller and, of course, the chip pile gets larger and larger.”

As large as the pile brought in by citizens was, he said the vegetative debris disposed by city cleanup crews and contractors was even bigger. So big, in fact, that the brush pile was set up at a separate field along 18th Avenue on the northeast side of town.

That pile peaked at a volume of 733,365 cubic feet on Aug. 6, over two weeks after the storm.

The Marshall County Landfill also saw plenty of traffic in the post-storm environment. Landfill manager Don Ballalatak said 8,789.89 tons of tornado-related debris was brought in between July 20 and Aug. 29.

He said he expects more debris to keep streaming in for the next several months as houses and businesses continue to rebuild and as structures are demolished.

Volume of destruction

The exact amount of debris caused by the July 19 tornado may never be known, but city officials said the volume of tree and vegetative debris brought to the Marshalltown Compost Facility reached into the hundreds of thousands of cubic feet.

• Public vegetative debris brought into the compost facility hit a peak volume of 657,585 cubic feet, enough to fill 7.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools — nearly 5 million gallons. That peak was hit on July 31.

• City crews and contractors started their own vegetative debris pile separate from the compost facility. It reached a peak volume of 733,365 cubic feet, which would fill 8.3 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or nearly 5.5 million gallons. That peak was hit on Aug. 6.

• City assistant civil engineer Brad Bateman said the figures are rough because new debris was being brought in while older debris was eventually put through a wood chipper. The values above were the highest recorded volumes for each brush pile by city officials.

For more on the Marshalltown Compost Facility, visit For more on the Marshall County Landfill, visit


Contact Adam Sodders at

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