Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
Although many people believe I should be, I am not at all embarrassed to admit that some of the most interesting surveying I have done in the summer has been at the Hastings landfill. Not only did I learn much about surveying there but also the landfill supplied a lesson in ecology. A few summers ago, I saw a new cell of the landfill being constructed, and I learned how the bottom of a landfill is built to ensure that nothing hazardous seeps out of the landfill and into the groundwater.
Around the outside of the landfill are monitoring wells. Groundwater from these wells is tested regularly to determine whether anything harmful from the landfill is seeping into the groundwater. The liquid which filters its way to the bottom of the landfill is called leachate. Every morning that we entered the landfill for work, I was reminded how important it was for us to be very careful while we worked because across the street from the landfill’s main entrance was a beautiful lake. It struck me as ironic that the lake is named Leach Lake.
To ensure that nothing leaches out of the landfill into the groundwater, the bottom of the landfill must be properly designed, surveyed and constructed. Leaving out some of the components, here is your simplified landfill lesson! First, the native soils have to be graded to the proper elevation. Then there is a two-foot layer of compacted clay. A special, thick plastic liner is placed over the clay. This liner comes in large rolls which are “welded” together into a single piece. Another layer of clay is placed over the liner but this layer of compacted clay is three feet thick. Over this layer of clay is another plastic liner. A foot and a half of granular material (similar to pea gravel and works great in aquariums!) finishes the bottom of the landfill.
Finally, the bottom of the landfill is not flat but is sloped so that the leachate which forms flows to a sump. The sludge is pumped from the sump into a special tanker truck which hauls it to a specialized landfill.
A lot of money is spent constructing a landfill. I do not know how much it costs to operate earth-moving equipment each hour but it is not cheap. While I worked at the landfill, there were eighteen scrapers, two graders and a bulldozer being operated. The earth-moving company also had two men who constantly checked the elevations to make sure each layer was constructed properly. There were also mechanics who would maintain all the equipment. The employees of the earthmoving company worked twelve hours a day, seven days per week. A soil expert hired by the state checked the quality of the clay being used. Who knows how many people worked on this project whom I never saw?
The project lasted for months. As the project neared its end, one of the earth-moving workers asked me how I thought they were doing. I looked and saw that the top layer of clay was beautifully smooth and so well compacted that as I walked across it, I hardly left a footprint. I told him, “You men have done such a nice job that it will be a shame to dump trash here.”
Everyone working on the project had to do his job to ensure the safety of the landfill. From the director of the construction project (whose favourite saying was, “Trash is cash!”), down to me and the two college kids who used screwdrivers to remove stones out of the clay and hauled the stones away in five-gallon buckets, we all had our part to do. Every worker was supervised to ensure no mistakes were made.
I must admit that there were times as I hiked along on the bottom of the landfill, slogging through the dirt, carrying two armfuls of surveying equipment and pounding in stakes, that I wondered whether this investment of work and money was worth it. After all, how much longer would this environment need to be protected? The day is coming when God will clean this whole mess with purifying fire. Yet, there is a huge expenditure of work and money to protect our earthly environment.
What is the condition of our homes’ barriers against the world’s spiritual leachate? Much of the entertainment which the world has to offer has an odour resembling the active part of the landfill. How is family life portrayed? Are parents honoured as a source of godly wisdom and advice concerning life’s questions? Do friends warn each other about the perils of walking in a way contrary to God’s law or are friends merely partners in adultery? How does the world’s drama smell to God?
The world has many avenues by which its leachate can seep into covenant homes. Television offers channels by the score. Through DVDs, we can see Hollywood’s productions in the privacy of our own homes. The internet has its presentations which are only a mouse click away.
We need the barrier of God’s Word to keep the world’s sludge out of our homes. God designed the way of obedience to preserve us from worldly living. We must constantly survey our home life to check the condition of our barriers against the world. We need to be vigilant in constructing a wall of truth around our homes. We must all do our part, for what leaches into one home will seep into another.
World flight is not the answer. Antithetical living is. Walk worthy of your calling in Jesus Christ! Our homes must be a reflection of the beautiful city of Zion. Do not allow the world to dump its trash here. Keep the barriers secure!