Old Landfills Still Costing Us Garbage disposal costs in the 1950’s and 60’s were dirt cheap. ‘Problem is, we’re still paying the bill… From the 1960’s until about 1980, our City operated landfills on land between Riverview Drive and Highway 42, on the northeast side of town. The land was leased from a private owner, and the City took responsibility for operating the landfills in accordance with applicable State laws and regulations—a lot different 30- 40 years ago than they are today. Following the original closure of the landfills in 1980, the City was required to perform quarterly monitoring activities on 12 groundwater test wells located around the perimeter of the landfill “cells.” Testing of nearby residential water wells was also required. Test results were routinely forwarded to DNR, and showed no problems. In the early 1990’s, after the detection of methane gas in the basement excavation for a new house on Golfview Drive, the City was required to install a gas barrier wall (an impermeable plastic barrier, installed to a depth below the static groundwater level), and a gas venting trench in the area north of Golfview. This installation was intended to prevent this explosive gas—the natural by-product of decaying garbage—from migrating into the basements of nearby homes. The City was also required to install methane monitors/alarms in those residences, as an added precaution. More recently, in 2002 the City funded a methane study on properties along the river side of Riverview Drive, to determine whether those properties could be developed or whether they were adversely impacted by the old landfills. DNR was provided with a copy of the study. The agency recommended against development and also directed the City to prepare an amended “post-closure plan” for the old landfills. That plan, approved by DNR in 2004, has required considerable added investment by the City in monitoring and environmental management activities at the old landfills, including: -- Installation of new groundwater monitoring wells; -- More extensive (and expensive) testing of water from those wells, and from nearby private wells; -- Installation of addition methane venting facilities (all those pipes sticking out of the ground on the east side of Riverview) -- Installation of leachate collection systems on both the east and west sides of the landfill, to collect contaminated water from the landfill cells and send it to the City’s wastewater plant for treatment Meeting the requirements of this new post-closure plan has cost local residents and businesses about $800,000 for engineering work and capital projects over the past six years. The City financed most of this work with 10-year debt, which is being repaid in annual installments that will “ramp up” to $70,000, starting in 2010. Add another $20,000 each year for utilities (electricity to pump the leachate, sewer charges to treat it) and $30,000 or so for groundwater testing and basic maintenance activities, and the City is planning on a cost of at least $120,000 per year for the foreseeable future. Right now, that bill is being paid with $1.50 of the $3.50 monthly environmental fee charged to local residents and businesses on their utility bills. (The rest of that fee goes for solid waste services and tree planting.) That generates about $90,000 annually; $30,000 more revenue will be needed, starting in 2010, to cover costs related to the “former” City landfills. The costs described above don’t reflect any “cleanup” or environmental remediation activities. Fortunately, none have been required to date. Rather, I would describe these costs as typical “environmental management and maintenance expenses” associated with closed municipal landfills. …Old landfills that are being monitored and managed in compliance with an up-to-date post-closure plan, to protect our groundwater, our surface waters, and nearby residents. No Salt Free Diet This Winter While national media have reported this Fall on a pending road salt shortage across the snow belt, be assured that Two Rivers has its salt supply for the coming winter lined up. With about 600 tons now in storage and another 600 tons to be delivered yet this month, the Public Works Department should have adequate supply for a normal Wisconsin winter. At $38.80 per ton, it will be about 11 percent more expensive than last year. So, while our Fall weather has been gorgeous, be assured that the guys driving the big yellow trucks are getting ready to do battle with Old Man Winter. …And yes, we’ll be sure to have them plow your driveway shut right after you have cleared it, too. Patsy’s Adding a Car Wash When it’s time to wash that salt off your car, there will be a new option on TR’s east side. Lance and Patsy Walesh, owners of Patsy’s Highway 42 Mobil Mart, have presented the City with plans for a new, automated car wash to be located next to their c-store on Lincoln Avenue. The facility, which requires a conditional use zoning permit, will be the subject of a public hearing at the City Council meeting on November 3. If all goes well, construction should be underway shortly thereafter. Thanks to the Waleshes for this further investment in their Two Rivers business. Two Rivers City Manager Greg Buckley can be contacted by calling 920-793-5532, or by e-mailing email@example.com.
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