by Israel Estrada, Blair High School

The lesson is designed to bring further understanding to one of the 5 Themes of Geography. Students will get an idea how the theme of "Human-Environment Interaction," allows us to understand how people use and impact the world around us. The WebQuest is a simulation in which the class represents the Commissioners Court. Based on the information before them they are forced to make a decision as to where a landfill will be located.


A continuing problem of local governments is the disposal of municipal wasters. Americans generate tons of refuse, mostly paper, food scraps, and plastics, metals, and yard wastes. Some municipalities dispose of these wastes by loading them on barges and dumping them at sea. But most municipal wastes are disposed of in landfills.

Landfills are much more sophisticated than the old “city dump,” a wasteland of smoldering fires, blowing trash, and obnoxious odors, Landfills must be built according to federal regulations. They cannot conflict with the preservation of wetlands. There must be not leaching of hazardous substances into rivers or aquifers. Local ordinances often restrict visual pollution as well. Even when compliance standards are met, there is still the “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) syndrome. We may generate trash, but we don’t want landfills near our homes.