The Contentions Made in a Single Meeting

Post 59 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.

On 12.15.15, Whitewater, Wisconsin considered both upgrades to her wastewater facility and as part of those claimed upgrades a waste-importation plan, bringing in waste from other cities. The December 15th meeting was a cornucopia of contentions about the entire project, slightly more than two years’ time from when the city’s wastewater superintendent presented publicly the possibility of waste importation to the city. (By his own account, he had been discussing the idea from months previously, and found encouragement for the idea from, of all people, a medical doctor on the Whitewater Common Council.)

Today, an outline of the contentions as recorded at the 12.15.15 meeting to consider over the next several weeks:

  • On ‘heavy truck traffic’ that the project contemplates (10:27 on video.)
  • On a backup mixer on the second, existing digester, that would be available when the second digester would be ‘more utilized.’  (11:00 on video.)
  • Repetition again of the oft-refuted claim that others in the community are concerned about adding digesters.  (25:30 on video.)
  • Volume of supposed ‘food waste’, ‘grease trap’ contents, and ‘spoiled salad dressing’ to be processed at the plant. (26:12 on video.)
  • Defining hazardous waste. (26:29 on video.)
  • The enumerated calculations – not the mere assertion – on a claimed payback of six-years. (27:23 on video.)
  • The claim about the safety of microorganisms that one finds in a human stomach or colon.  (27:58 on the video.)
  • The contention (from City Manager Clapper) that what does not ‘glow’ does not – would not – injure.  (28:00 on video.)
  • The contention (from Mike Gerbitz of Donohue) that prior expenditures for an existing digester justify additional use & expenditures for the same.  (29:33 on the video.)
  • The contention (from Mike Gerbitz of Donohue) that other communities have programs like the importation proposal for Whitewater.  (30:25 on the video.)
  • The contention that use of a digester is the ‘one way’ to reduce costs.  (31:00 on the video.)
  • Implications of promises of the project’s cost underestimating actual costs with engineering fees.  (35:45 on the video.)
  • Actual supplies of so-called high-strength waste.  (37:24 on the video.)
  • The contention (from Wastewater Superintendent Reel) that Rockford has a similar program to the one proposed for Whitewater (37:24 on video.)
  • Contention that long-distance haulers travel long distances because only some cities have capacity.  (38:40 on the video.)
  • Contention that the waste processed elsewhere would be similar to the waste that Whitewater would process.  (39:30 on the video.)
  • Contention (from Reel) that there is no order omitted from an anaerobic digester.  (40:49 on the video.)
  • Contention (from City Manager Clapper) that bad press, etc., comes from operating aerobic digesters.  (41:00 on the video.)
  • Contention about the contents placed conventionally with anaerobic digesters (41:15 on the video.)
  • Discussion about the actual conditions at the Waunakee digester.  (41:45 on the video.)
  • Discussion about how tipping fees are calculated.  (45:15 on the video.)

This is not all that’s there in the 12.15.15 meeting, of course – as much of the discussion involves millions for plant upgrades elsewhere – but after two years’ consideration it’s a good set of points to consider before collecting all questions thus posed.