Environmental Cafe

When: Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 6-7:30 PM
Where: Java Joys, 1009 North Washington Street, Janesville, WI (across from Mercy Mall, at the top of the Memorial Bridge)

Topic of Discussion: Janesville City Sanitary Landfill Operations Overview
Guest Speaker: John Whitcomb, City of Janesville Operations Director

Please attend our second Environmental Cafe - an informal discussion about environmental topics - with a cup of coffee or beverage. Held once monthly on different environmental topics - these discussions are open to the public, and encourage ideas and networking.

Arrive early to get yourself a beverage - at last month's meeting, the Library was kind enough to provide refreshments, however, we are also trying to promote local business during these meetings. So bring some cash, support a locally owned coffee house, and meet some new friends, and join in the discussion on this very interesting topic!

Rock Environmental Network

PS - Bring your own cup!

"When People Lead, the Leaders Will Follow"

REN Action Alert

What: Janesville City Council meeting
Where: Municipal Building, 18 N Jackson, Janesville
When: 7 PM Monday, April 27th

View the Council's agenda materials here.
Make recommendations to the Council by emailing: citycouncil@ci.janesville.wi.us

Items of concern/questions with tomorrow evenings agenda items:
Pages 58-65 of the full agenda packet

From an email sent to the City Council:

Concerning the "unacceptable water pressure fluctuations" on the NE side of town, requiring a 7.1 Million dollar new water tower... "Independent engineering firms evaluating this problem conclude that additional water storage is presently needed on the City's east side to support existing demands placed on the water distribution system. This will reduce the magnitude of pressure drops during high water demand situations..."

In the agenda is also a request to raise our water rates (by 14.75%), due to a substantial drop in water use due to the closing of GM. If we have lost so much water usage, by losing GM, then why do we need to build a new water tower?

Were the studies sited in the memorandum conducted before, or after GM closed?

Upgrading our pumping system is a route to investigate, before asking the residents of the City to pay 7.1 Million dollars for a water tower, that will also help facilitate the growth of our City into the fertile farmlands on the NE side of town. The increased revenue from higher water bills of $881,361 as outlined in the agenda, could pay for the additional pumping equipment needed to correct this situation, without the land and expense of a water tower.

With an expense of this magnitude, perhaps further investigation could be required by our Council - mainly, gathering specific information from residents that live in the "affected" area of town. In other words, how "unacceptable" is the current situation? Also, with an expense like this - Council should require more citizen input - and delay a decision on this agenda item, until further information and options, if any can be gathered.

The City manager is requesting to apply for a low interest loan for this project, providing interim financing for the "proposed" Water Utility improvements. (see agenda) If we have not yet made a decision on this project, then why would we apply for, and pay interest on a loan? The City should outline information on stimulus funding options prior to a decision.

The Analysis section of the memorandum to Council, needs clarification also. This states that the north pressure zone serves 30,000 people - and includes 17,900 people between the Rock River and the interstate. Council needs further and more detailed information on our water pumping stations - including detailed maps indicating pumping stations, etc. so an educated decision can be made in the best interests of the residents.

The water pressure in the NE area is stated to have been affected 1-3 times in the past 5 years. The examples provided - that residents experienced low water pressure up to 3 times in 5 years, does not call for a 7M expense to taxpayers - especially in the economic state of our City. Residents residing in the red dot areas on the provided map, could be serviced adequately with upgrades to our pumping system - and not an entirely new water tower.

A public study session or open forum should be held by Council before making a decision on this resolution, and delayed until such time, that federal funding options are revealed to residents. The memo also states that this is a "critical situation" - however, this is the first time this issue has surfaced as critical - in searching the Gazette's archives - there are no stories or incidents relating to a critical loss of water pressure.

Concerning the purchase of a new scale for the landfill:

The cost on the accepted bid is $76,602, but the note issue is stated as $90,000. What will the 13,398.00 be used for?

ALSO - in the financial statements from Comptroller Patty Lynch, there is a 300K negative balance in our phase 2 landfill construction account - which will be paid with a general obligation note issue. I would request that Council obtain a complete profit/loss statement from our garbage and recycling operations - so that outside haulers and industrial dumpers, pay fair and equitable costs for landfilling. $21.80 per ton of trash will never cover the costs to clean up the garbage that is being dumped in our landfill. http://www.wasteresources.wi.gov/

With an estimated 40 years left at the current site (according to John Whitcomb, operations director) - the Council must act aggressively to preserve this area by reducing garbage to our landfill (which can be achieved by raising tipping fees) aggressively requiring businessses to reduce, reuse and enforce recycling laws, and limit garbage to that which is generated in Rock County.

Other options include banning e-waste, creating re-use areas at the landfill drop zone for building materials, and other items that could be reused, and REQUIRING IDENTIFICATION at the dump hut - and requiring those outside of the City to pay for dumping in our landfill. The residents of the City of Janesville are being asked to fund and eventually clean up our landfill, yet many are allowed to dump, without being required to show proof of residency, or pay a fee.

Environmental Cafe


What: ENVIRONMENTAL CAFE' (an informal chat with friends on environmental issues, that feature a keynote speaker, & lots of interesting discussion)

When: April 22nd, 2009 EARTH DAY!

6-7:30 PM - please arrive early to get a cup-a-joe and support a local business!

Where: Mocha Moments, Center Ave, Janesville - just south of the VFW

Topic of Discussion: This month's EC will feature Beloit CSA Farmers Denny & Susan Wright of Wrightway Farms!

They will be presenting information on CSA Farming (how you can join one)
Organic Gardening, and tips to prepare your spring garden for planting!

Action Alert - Rock Environmental Network


When: Thursday, February 26, 2009. 6:00 PM

What: Rock County Board of Supervisors Meeting to decide on how to split 1.8M that the County will receive in 2009 from American Transmission Company (ATC) for allowing high power lines to cross our county.

Where: Rock County Courthouse, Janesville, Room 4R (4th floor, through security)

Background: In November of 2008, The County board chose to set aside for parks and conservation projects, a $1.8 million, one-time payment from the American Transmission Co. Struggling over the money are the land conservation committee and the parks committee. They met jointly on Jan. 19 but were unable to write a resolution to split the money.

Here's what they are asking for, according to committee documents:

Land conservation

The land conservation committee Feb. 4 approved a resolution to split the money in half. The committee wants to spend the money in three places:
-- $740,000 for a purchase of development rights program (PDR); to protect working lands. County planning officials are interested in developing a program that protects farmland while letting farmers get money for their property, and keep them from feeling forced to sell to developers. The money will be separated into two sub-categories, staff/support, ($290,000) and reserve for grant match, ($450,000) (There are state and federal grants available for these programs, however, you have to have money to get the grants, allowing this money to actually apply for additional funds.) This money could be a "one time shot" to get the program started, committee member Robert Fizzell of Beloit said at the Jan. 19 meeting.
-- $150,000 for a continuous hazardous waste clean sweep program. That's how much it would cost to turn the county's temporary hazardous waste collection program into an annual one, according to the committee's executive summary. The money would last seven to 10 years, depending on state grants. No additional staffing would be necessary.
-- $10,000 to restore county-owned property on the county campus along Highway 51. The idle property has been taken over by invasive specie. The money would be used to remove trees and stumps and buy prairie grass seeds and new trees, and restore an area to the original old oak savanna.


The parks committee Feb. 10 approved a resolution to allocate $250,000 to land conservation and the rest—$1.56 million—to parks.
The county is poised to approve a five-year parks, outdoor recreation and open space plan, said Kurt Yankee, chairman of the parks committee.
That plan includes $15 million in possible projects. They might not all happen, but the county can't ask for matching grants if it doesn't list projects, according to the committee's executive summary.
The projects include:
-- $825,000 for Carver-Roehl Park. Most of that—$775,000—would be added to the $75,000 already budgeted to fix the culvert at the park entrance to reduce flooding.
-- $350,000 for Gibbs Lake Park. The money would improve trails, buy land and improve shelters and restrooms.
-- $260,000 for Happy Hollow Park. The money would improve trails, shelters and erosion control.
-- $450,000 to Magnolia Bluff Park. The money would go to improve trails, buy land, build shelters and control erosion.
The summary plans for invasive species control at all four parks.

OUR VIEWS: ATC Money has been allocated to Parks AND Conservation. While park projects are definitely in need of funding, the Conservation committee is no less deserving. Parklands are already included on our maps, and are in no danger of being lost to development. A farmland/working lands protection protection program is desperately needed to protect the richest farmland on earth from development, and splitting the money, 50/50 between parks and conservation, is the only fair option.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?: Be at the meeting and either register to speak and voice your opinion to the County Board, or if you agree with splitting the money and do not want to speak, stand in favor of a 50/50 split when asked to do so. Either way, this money belongs to the residents of Rock County.

If you can't attend the meeting, email your concerns to the County Board of Supervisors at webmaster@co.rock.wi.us

Information supplied by Rock Environmental Network