The December 2014 Presentation (Part 2)

WGTB logo PNG 112x89 Post 37 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.

In this post, I’ll consider only a portion of the public comments at the 12.16.14 meeting.

There are two reasons for a deliberate approach.  First, Whitewater’s city officials (at least some of them) contend that they’ve considered this project in detail, and carefully.  Those claims deserve in reply a careful review.  Second, the public comments about which I’ll write today caught my attention at the time, and have been notable to me since.

Today’s questions derive from discussion beginning at the 36-minute mark, and that continued until 46:21.  (The 12.16.14 discussion is embedded at the bottom of this post for ready reference.)

(Every question in this series has a unique number, assigned chronologically based on when it was asked. All the questions from When Green Turns Brown can be found in the Question Bin. Today’s questions begin with No. 223.)

At just over thirty-six minutes in (36:15), one hears the first public comment (from Jeff Knight, chair of Whitewater’s Community Development Authority, and President & CEO of a local business lobby, the Greater Whitewater Committee.)

I’ll transcribe a portion of his remarks (beginning at 37:24):

And question two I’d have is the phosphorus treatment that you’ve included in here.  Other communities have done significant treatment of their phosphorus by putting it out on land so that it trickles and does its cleaning itself.  What’s the process you’ve decided on the phosphorus in this?  And, cause I think that’s a very expensive component of what’s being proposed.  And so, have you looked what are the options on the phosphorus treatment and has the city been able to consider we’ve got a big industrial park with a lot of vacant land…there is land that could be used to treat that phosphorus.  I just would like for the Common Council to understand those decisions.

223.  Is Knight serious in his contention that a possible method of treatment for Whitewater is “putting it out on land so that it trickles and does its cleaning itself?”

224.  Does he really think that a possible solution is spreading phosphorus on vacant land in the business park?

225.  Where does Knight, after all, think that the phosphorus “trickles?”

226.  On 7.15.14 – five months before this December meeting – Donohue explained the options for addressing phosphorus (actually removing it at the source or paying a charge for non-removal above regulatory-defined limits).  Donohue explained those same options in this very December meeting, shortly before Knight speaks.  Why doesn’t CDA Chair Knight – voluntarily speaking on this issue – know the phosphorus option that Donohue presented (and the city administration accepted) five months earlier?

227.  Why doesn’t Knight understand how the method Donohue recommends – and the city administration accepted five months earlier – addresses phosphorus not by removal, but by paying a charge for non-removal?  Isn’t Mr. Knight who’s the one who doesn’t understand this subject?

228.  If spreading phosphorus on the ground so that it “trickles” is an effective solution, will the executive members of the Greater Whitewater Committee (among them Knight, CDA member Larry Kachel, and councilman Dr. Kidd) spread it on their lawns and properties?

229. If Whitewater wants to market the town to residential development, is it an effective marketing presentation to offer Whitewater as a town where the phosphorus plan is “putting it out on land so that it trickles and does its cleaning itself.”)

(Two points worth making: (1) I know that there’s no chance of this bizarre idea as an actual plan – the problem is that CDA Chair Knight actually suggests it, and (2) how can any community have confidence in supposed public-relations – especially directed toward attracting residential home sales – with ideas of this absurd kind?)

Next, on Sunday, 10.4.15: The December 2014 Presentation (Part 3).


Donohue Firm’s December 2014 Presentation to Whitewater from John Adams on Vimeo.