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fox cities news, appleton, wi fox cities news, appleton, wi
Today's Blog: Time for the Guv to morph into Chris Christie
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    1/27/2010
    Phosphorus is the new CO2. $Billions in Wisconsin

    A DNR hearing Monday recorded testimony on proposed revisions to DNR water runoff rules tightening phosphorus discharge standards. Over 130 folks crammed into the conference room at the Outagamie Highway Department offices.

    A ton of information is available – as an engineer friend said, all these phosphorus-related costs should surprise no one – they’ve been working on it for 20 years.

    Fact sheets and DNR info are linked below. Look for the Fiscal Estimate here to get an idea what more (beyond huge outlays already undertaken by municipalities) these proposed revisions will cost us.

    Fiscal Estimate
    • 10.5 new DNR positions at an annual cost of $773,644
    • 70% cost-share for milkhouse management systems and manure storage facilities: $9,312,500
    • Private sector cost for same: $2,800,000
    • Increased costs for controlling solids runoff in highway and road reconstruction: $30,915,000 to $46,352,250 annually. Wow.
    Those are very big bucks. Tens of millions.

    But there’s still more. Like $5 billion more.

    In regulating phosphorus runoff in individual watersheds, the DNR has determined what urban areas must do to get rid of this phosphorus. I suppose one visible indicator of all this goings-on might be the phosphorus-free dishwasher detergents we will see on the shelf come July 1; no phosphorus = wimpy grease-cutting capability. But crummy weakling dishwasher detergent is the least of our worries.

    Wastewater plants in the Fox Valley are being asked (told) to decrease their phosphorus discharges by a factor of 10! And now we’re talking some big money.

    I’ll let the wastewater plant managers and employees tell you the story.

    Chris Shaw, Deputy Director of Utilities for Appleton testified Monday that the cost of the new regs to Wisconsin wastewater plants would total $1 to $2 billion, with estimates as high as $5 billion. Wow. Both he and a representative from the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District argued that 75% of phosphorus comes from agriculture – and that the comparative costs for treating wastewater are huge, compared with agricultural solutions.

    Mark Lentz, Director of Public Works, City of Fond du Lac, as did most of the others testifying, said he supported all initiatives to improve water quality in Wisconsin. “That being said…” he listed recent costs to the FDL wastewater system - $61 million to meet nitrate limits and they’re only halfway done. $35 million to meet crypto regs. And phosphorus will cost another $18M. Lentz, begging for time and a more reasonable approach, said in 5 years, they would be spending $134 million to meet compliance requirements and already have the distinct honor of the highest utility rates in the state.

    John Leonard, Operations Manager in FDL: “Our job is to protect the environment…” [But not in my backyard – because in my backyard, it’s just too expensive. – well, that’s my paraphrase.] Leonard urged the DNR to add teeth to the regs that will force “ag” to do something about phosphorus removal. Otherwise the municpalities have to do it [at much higher cost] and borrow the money, continuing to raise rates.

    Chuck Kell, Village of Little Chute Administrator talked about the “cap” in water quality spending for municipalities. It’s been preliminarily agreed that municipalities should have to pay no more than 37 cents per $1,000 in equalized value annually to control the quality of water runoff – even if that doesn’t get them to meeting current runoff standards, much less the revised standards.Kell: “We’re already paying twice what the cap is…[this is a] tremendous burden on our business community. One major employee for example, pays $23,000 per year in stormwater fees – and we’re still not meeting the law.

    These are your tax and utility dollars these public servants are concerned about. Hold unto your hat – and your wallet – Here comes the DNR.

    Info
    Everything you ever wanted to know about the proposed new rule
    Proposed Ag revisions to Runoff Rule
    Proposed revisions, urban standards:
    Ag Standards
    Runoff Management

    Jo Egelhoff, FoxPolitics.net




    COMMENTS

    Jo,
    I didn't have time to read all the sources but the issue is complicated, as most issues are. I can tell you though that my experience as a Developer has shown me that the clean water burden is often assessed against the Developer or home owner or city rather than the farmer. Nothing against farmers but I have actually seen (on the Apple creek trail) a farmers field bleeding an huge amount of soil and organics into Apple Creek from a freshly plowed field. Less than 100 yards away, a developing lot, less than 1/2 acre, fully silt fenced at great cost to the Developer. I'm not saying that Developers should be allowed to pollute but I believe the statistics will show that the farms generate a huge amount of phosphorous (again I didn't read the studies)in water. The phosphorous is a huge problem and must be solved but the dollars need to be spent where there is the best bang for the buck. Getting rid of phosphorous in detergents is a fine idea by me. If grease is a problem maybe we shouldn't eat so much of it or pans can be wiped down first.We consumers shouldn't sacrifice our clean waters (or pay higher taxes) for such minor conveniences

    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    dave allen (Wed Jan 27 07:29:03 2010)

    Yes, nothing against farmers, as you say, but it seems the ag-based remedies are much more cost-effective than the tens of millions for each wastewater plan to add additional filtration capacities.
    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    Jo (Wed Jan 27 13:00:17 2010)

    Actually, conventional farms dump a lot more nitrates (which cause blue baby syndrome) than phosphorus. Which is why grass-based animal ag makes much more sense, besides being cheaper for the farmer.
    fox cities news, appleton, wi
    emily matthews (Thu Jan 28 17:01:16 2010)




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