Eagle County staff and commissioners were told in February that the landfill had a problem.
In the last 15 years, trash has been compiled in a steeper slope than what was originally permitted.
On Tuesday, commissioners authorized KRW Consulting Inc. to start fixing the problem.
"Before you is a contract to authorize (KRW) to do two things - start the process of vertical expansion on the landfill and to revise the design and operation manual, which hasn't really been modified in more than 16 years," said Ken Whitehead, the director of Eagle County Solid Waste and Recycling.
Whitehead suggested the possibility of vertical expansion as a solution when he presented the problem to commissioners in February.
"The slope is anywhere from a 14:1 ratio (shallow) to a 4:1 ratio (steeper) in different parts of the landfill," he said.
Commissioners agreed then that the best solution is to see if the landfill can be repermitted with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to have 4:1 slopes. A 4:1 slope is the maximum allowed by state law.
If repermitted, the landfill would be able to keep piling trash upward to delay its expansion outward and extend the life of the landfill.
"I stress that there is no environmental impact - this is an operational impact," said Whitehead, who started his position with the county last year.
At the Feb. 13 meeting, the county commissioners gave Whitehead the go-ahead to proceed with the effort, which was estimated to cost up to $120,000.
If the CDPHE approves the repermitting, the next step is getting approval from the Bureau of Land Management. Then a task order would be brought before the commissioners for approval, followed by a public hearing.
"It will be a process and the board of county commissioners has the opportunity to pull the plug whenever it wants if it decides it's not in the county's best interest," Whitehead said.
The biggest negative potential impact of vertical expansion would be visual but Whitehead predicts that would be minimal.
"If you drive up to Red Sky Ranch - the landfill is about three miles away - and look across the valley, you could see it but I don't think you would notice it. It would be a brown mound in front of a brown hill," Whitehead said, stressing that the plan will be subject to public scrutiny every step of the way.