Post 45 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 will include the transcribed text of remarks that Whitewater’s city manager made on 9.17.15 about waste importation into the city. Today, I’ll post the transcribed remarks on their own, with the video recording of those remarks embedded at the bottom of this post. Tomorrow, I will pose questions on these remarks for this series’ Question Bin. It seems useful to me to post the transcribed remarks to follow particular points.
Q: The wastewater treatment plant, there has been some discussion in the community about the fact that originally there was a fairly ambitious plan about possibly importing waste from outside the community and processing it there. That’s now been scaled back but there is still an element of that in the proposal.
Whitewater City Manager Clapper: Yep.
Q (continues): Would you like to address that in terms of the concern for environmental issues and the like?
Clapper: Yes, I will. And I will go back just a quick second to one of these aerials of the whole facility. So, the digester complex is up in the upper right corner of the screen. And that is where, we, I already mentioned the process and the methane gas byproduct that could be utilized more effectively. In addition to what we process onsite we have in the community, we have, umm, grease traps every restaurant and some other food processing places have grease traps and other traps for food waste that then gets collected by a private entity and as their traps are cleaned out and then that material is dumped somewhere. Very often that material comes to our wastewater treatment facility. We also have food processing plants in the area beyond just our city boundaries, but in the area, that have food waste, ah, high concentrations of byproducts from food processing, all organic material, umm, that they need a place to deposit.
And so, we have currently, and I wish I had a laser pointer, maybe I can with this cursor, no, I can’t, umm, in the lower right corner of the screen our administration building, right next to the well and right through the door into the place where we have people working there is a dump spot for that waste. Which is very aromatic, to say the least [laughter from audience].
So, umm, and an inadequate site, any big trucks that come in have to snake through, they come down a long road by the power plant and by John’s Disposal, come in, come around down, around again, and back up to that area to dump. What we want to do is establish a more effective, efficient way for them to do that.
And so we’re looking to build a concrete pad on the north side of that digester facility that would allow, it’s actually two or three concrete pads, to address all the different types of waste that would be deposited there, and the different types of, umm, trucks or tankers that would be supplying it.
The material, that, so that’s what we’re doing as part of this project. It’s a few hundred thousand dollars which is a lot of money. It sounds kinda, it makes me ill to say that as if it’s just 300,000 dollars, but it’s a few hundred thousand dollars out of the two-million for this facility that would allow us to have those pads. What that gives us is an opportunity to allow for additional waste to be deposited in our facility and processed.
Umm, if that were to work, and we found that it was in high demand and the facility was able to function properly without any problems we would go on to explore in future years, five years, ten years, ah, eight years, look at doing more with the equipment inside the digester facility to incorporate the methane, the energy generated by the methane gas that we could then burn into the heating and electricity of the rest of the facility.
So, originally, I think the very first time it was brought forward was all kinda one package and the idea that we would be building new digesters, which we are not doing, because we have them already, and in addition, put in all this other stuff in. We’re not doing that we’re taking it slow and easy to see if it’s even a viable thing to do. But right now many communities throughout the state are switching, their, I guess their focus and mentality with treating wastewater from wastewater treatment to nutrient management, is what it’s called and basically it’s trying to derive from the byproduct of a wastewater treatment facility energy and taking advantage of that sludge and what it can do.
So, umm, another part of the concern, to the question that you asked, Lynn, I think has been that we’d have these tankers with toxic waste driving through our city and dropping waste off at our wastewater treatment facility. That’s not the case.
Umm, I think of [sighs] a good example, umm, Hidden Valley Ranch bringing a truck load of all the cream and material that they didn’t use, for their ranch dressing. Bringing it here and dropping it off. Umm, some of those trucks are already coming through anyway whether it be through the bypass or because they have to make stops at different facilities or different buildings in this city.
So, it wouldn’t be, it wouldn’t be anything we’re not already used to and it wouldn’t be toxic, umm, my children are not gonna to glow in the dark when we’re done kinds of stuff [audience laughter]. It’s high concentrations of the same material that’s already going in.
So in order for that to work we have to evaluate every, every time someone wants to come and drop material off they would have to call ahead, and we we would have to get a chemical sample and test that material before we would allow it to stay at our facility, to make sure it doesn’t damage our system and its not something other than what we’ve said we’ll accept.
So, that’s, I don’t know if that answers everything but thank you for that question.
Tomorrow: Questions on the 9.17.15 Remarks on Waste Importation.