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Friday, September 28, 2012

RENEW participates in county announcement of Clean Lakes, Clean Energy initiative

Michael Vickerman, RENEW director of programs and policy, gestures toward Lake Monona during the announcement of a "Clean Lakes, Clean Energy" initiative by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi (right in suit coat).


For Immediate Release
September 27, 2012

New technology to eliminate 100% of lake polluting phosphorus, expanded lake clean‐up partnership, “CNG by 2023,” and Solar Powered “Green Highway Garage” among highlights

Near the shores of Lake Monona today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced his comprehensive 2013 “Clean Lakes, Clean Energy” plan to be included in his 2013 county budget that will be introduced to the County Board on Monday.

“Cleaning up our lakes, preserving our lands, and investing in green energy like solar, wind, and alternative fuels are shared values that enhance our quality of life we enjoy in Dane County,” Parisi said. “My budget reflects a continued commitment to protecting and enhancing the resources that make our home such an attractive place to live, work, and visit,” he added.

One of the cornerstones of Parisi’s $4.5 million capital lakes clean‐up initiative, is brand new technology that successfully removes 100% of the pollutant phosphorus from animal waste.

Parisi’s budget will have $300,000 to install this cutting edge system as part of the new manure digester being built in the Town of Springfield in early 2013. “Technology is rapidly evolving and this system not only keeps our county on the cutting edge of lake clean‐up, it also could be the gateway to developing additional manure digesters in areas where we know phosphorus run‐off is a problem,” Parisi said.

Phosphorus is the main culprit for smelly, unsightly lakes. One pound of phosphorus removed from our watershed prevents 500 pounds of algae growth in our lakes. The system would be the first to operate in Wisconsin, and was the winner of a Top Ten New Farm Technology Award at World Dairy Expo in 2011.

Parisi also announced that his administration, along with Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the 30 cities, villages, towns and private partners comprising the Yahara WINs pilot project, are proposing to triple their lakes clean up and phosphorus reduction partnership next year.

As part of the proposal, Yahara WINs will fund $180,000 in county‐led work next year to ensure timely implementation of phosphorus‐reducing practices on farm fields. Yahara WINs is a first in‐the‐nation effort to reduce phosphorus at one‐quarter of the normal cost.

By using simple, low‐cost practices like planting buffer strips on farm fields or building roofs over animal feeding areas, farm families are partnering with the county and Yahara WINs to save taxpayer dollars. This proposal is contingent on the support of the Yahara WINs Executive Committee.

“Our partnership with the county and others in Dane county is allowing the District to achieve real improvements in the quality of our lakes and streams and to be cost effective with our limited dollars,” said Chief Engineer and Director of MMSD, Michael Mucha.

The County Executive’s budget also addresses a top recommendation from the Lakes and Watershed Commission by adding new staff to enhance the county’s clean lakes phosphorus reduction efforts in rural and urban areas. The staff will monitor the implementation and effectiveness of various programs through state of the art technology.

"Clean water is key to our economy and quality of life,” said Lakes and Watershed Commission Chair Melissa Malott. “County Executive Parisi's investment in our lakes is a clear demonstration of his commitment to a healthy, prosperous future in Dane County."

Another item in the County Executive’s budget expands the promise for cleaner lakes through an innovative $50,000 pilot project. The pilot will test the effectiveness of using alum, an everyday house‐hold canning product, to prevent phosphorus from leaving our farm fields.

A laboratory bench‐scale test will be conducted using water samples from county‐owned farm land operated by the Endres Berryridge Farm in the Town of Springfield. Alum will be applied to water taken from a drainage ditch on the property, and the runoff will be tested to assess the alum’s effectiveness in neutralizing phosphorus.

“Dane County’s farm families are good stewards of the land and have been long‐time partners in our efforts to reduce phosphorus and clean up the lakes,” said Parisi. “Lake runoff comes from urban and rural areas, and my budget takes a comprehensive approach to address both sources.”

Parisi also announced Thursday that his budget will include another new initiative – ‘CNG by 2023’ – the county’s commitment to expanded use of this cheaper, cleaner fuel, and the conversion of the county vehicle fleet to run on CNG over the next decade.

To kick off the initiative, Parisi will fund the purchase of a pilot fleet of snow plows in 2013 that will run on CNG. Dane County will become the first county in Wisconsin to invest in these new trucks, currently in their final stages of development.

Parisi’s budget also includes an additional $50,000 for a study that will provide a roadmap to accelerate converting county vehicles to CNG. The study will include evaluating existing county facilities for the potential development of additional CNG filling stations, including at the county’s future community digester sites.

The county currently has 16 CNG vehicles, and plans to nearly double its CNG fleet by the end of the year. This switch to CNG will offset the use of approximately 20,000 gallons of diesel and gasoline, saving county taxpayers roughly $40,000 annually.

The current CNG fleet fills up with fuel generated by decaying garbage at the county’s Rodefeld Landfill. Dane County is the first location in the state that’s fueling vehicles on landfill gas.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CNG reduces carbon monoxide by 90 percent, ground‐level ozone emissions by 75 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. Because CNG burns so cleanly, natural gas vehicles cost less to maintain. CNG vehicles show significantly less engine wear, spark plugs last longer, and oil changes are needed less frequently.

Parisi’s budget also continues his commitment to cleaner energy and the creation of more green jobs throughout Dane County.

The budget includes $500,000 to construct a new solar powered system on the roof of a new highway garage the county plans to build next year near the Rodefeld Landfill. This new “green garage” will compliment the largest municipally owned solar project in Wisconsin that will debut at the Dane County Regional Airport in 2013. Once built, the garage will be heated with gas generated by the county’s landfill and powered by solar energy – taking it completely off the grid.

The County Executive’s cleaner energy measures for 2013 also include a $150,000 investment to explore and implement a pilot wind power project to be installed at a county facility to be determined. One of those facilities that will be evaluated will be the Springfield Highway garage.

Green jobs mean big business in Dane County – the county/Madison metropolitan area ranked 7th in the nation in the number of green jobs as a percentage of all jobs in the region according to a 2011 Brookings Institute study. The report found there are 12,337 green jobs (representing 3.5% of the total workforce) and that our green economy ranks 43rd among the 100 largest metro areas.

Parisi’s budget will also include:
  • Expanding the county’s successful Streambank Easement Program to open up more areas for public fishing access. Previous easements have created some of the best public trout fishing in the country and made a name for Dane County in outdoor recreation. Dane County will host the 2013 National Trout Unlimited Convention in 2013. Parisi’s budget will include $150,000 for this effort. 
  • Investments in new technology to enhance the experience of Dane County’s parks. A $150,000 WiFi pilot project at Lake Farm and Babcock County Parks will increase high tech access and mobility for park users in the campgrounds and on the trails. New staffing resources will develop mobile web apps for campsite reservations, hiking and biking trails, and more.
  • Additional staff added to help keep Dane County’s network of parks and trails clean and accessible to all residents and visitors.
 “My budget initiatives are an investment in our quality of life,” said Parisi. “As these projects are implemented, we’ll see a return on those investments in the years ahead through taxpayer dollars saved, jobs created, and a cleaner environment.”

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