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Janesville landfill contracts renewed

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
December 11, 2007
— One resident asked the Janesville City Council on Monday whether bringing in other people’s garbage is filling the landfill and possibly threatening the groundwater.

But the Janesville City Council OK’d three contracts with waste haulers, assured by staff members that the landfill is safe and that the outside trash provides a constant flow of garbage for efficiency that will subsidize the cost of resident garbage pickup.


Janesville residents do not pay for garbage pickup or recycling, a cost estimated by Manager Steve Sheiffer at about $1.4 million.


Julie Backenkeller, 719 N. Grant Ave., said the city’s fees should be increased. That would decrease the amount of garbage but maintain the revenue.


She said the city’s fees to haulers is $21.80 per ton, compared to Dane County’s $45 per ton.


The fact that the city has increased its waste flow is “to me, not an exciting thing,” she said.


She said her research shows that the clay liners often fail in landfills and the leachate contaminates the groundwater.


“Our drinking water is being threatened by someone else’s garbage. There’s no amount of money that makes that OK.”


“What price are you willing to put on clean drinking water for your kids and grandkids?” she asked.


Staff said the city must be competitive to attract outside haulers and be assured of adequate trash flow for efficient operations and to subsidize residents’ trash pick-up.


The city is competitive with other landfills because it has lost business to them in the past, John Whitcomb, operations director, said.


The price often quoted as the gate rate is not the rate the landfills contract, he said.


Janesville, for instance, lost Beloit’s business to Mallard Ridge, which offered $16 a ton compared to Janesville’s bid of $19. Janesville’s gate fee is $21.80 per ton. Mallard Ridge’s gate rate is $36, he said.


Whitcomb said the landfills meet Department of Natural Resource specifications. The clay liner is 4 feet, and the newer cells include a plastic membrane on top of the layer. The leachate is pumped from the cell and cleaned in the sewage system.


Williams said the council must balance the costs to replace a landfill once it is filled with the money it brings in.


Whitcomb said about 60 acres are left in the landfill area. The current cell is 36 acres. That likely will last at least 15 years and probably more with new technology, Whitcomb said.


The council unanimously approved waste disposal contracts with Town & Country Sanitation, based in Boscobel; Waste Management of Wisconsin, which has a Janesville office; and Sherman Sanitation, a private waste hauler serving Janesville and Rock County.


Combined, the three contracts guarantee a minimum of 95,000 tons of waste and more than $1.9 million, annually, Whitcomb wrote in a memo to the council.


Janesville’s landfill will take in about 210,000 tons of garbage in 2008, Whitcomb said.


That garbage is split about evenly between city and noncity sources.



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