During a lull between customers March 19, scale house operator Margaret Lee wipes down edges of the service window at Hatch Hill landfill in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — The Hatch Hill landfill in Augusta, which has been closed on weekends since measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus were implemented in mid-March, will resume Saturday operations this week.

The landfill, transfer station and recycling area — operated by the city but also used by residents and trash haulers from eight surrounding communities — returned this week to its normal operating hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.

The resumption of Saturday hours should make it easier for people who work Monday-to-Friday jobs to get rid of their trash and recyclables.

“No Saturdays was difficult for a lot of residents,” Solid Waste Director Jon Chalmers said “It was tough with the Monday-to-Friday schedule for folks that were working. So to try to meet that need, we’re now able to go back to Tuesday to Saturday.”

Hatch Hill closed Saturdays in large part because it was the landfill’s busiest day and city officials were looking to limit the number of people who could be exposed to the coronavirus, while still keeping it open other days to prevent waste from accumulating at area homes.

Matt Jackson puts insulation into the new building next to the scale house April 23 at the Hatch Hill landfill in Augusta. Some procedures and fees are being changed temporarily at Hatch Hill because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Landfill users now must check in at the new building as they enter the facility and pay at the scale house. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

To help make the process of going to Hatch Hill quicker, the city has had a second scale house built at the facility, so one scale can take incoming traffic and the other outgoing.

Chalmers said the city recently hired a second full-time scale operator, which allowed for the resumption of Saturday operations.

For a time during the ongoing pandemic, the facility was not taking recycling, although recycling has since resumed, largely returning Hatch Hill to normal operations.

Augusta residents may also take their single-sort recyclables to the John Charest Public Works Facility on North Street. It is open during business hours Monday to Friday.

One pandemic-related change still in place at Hatch Hill: Payments may only be made with credit or debit cards — no cash.

Hatch Hill has also resumed issuing new user permits July 1. Permits are available at Hatch Hill, with proof of residency.

In addition to Augusta, member municipalities are Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Manchester, Pittson and Randolph.

About 150 people per day use the facility, according to city data.

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