Guest Column: Winnebago Landfill rhetoric stinks — all for two-year capacity increase

By Mona Marcinkowski, Kathy Johnson and Nichole Larison Sammon
Fox Ridge Subdivision residents

The rhetoric spoken by our Winnebago County Board members and President and CEO of Rock River Environmental Services (RRES) John Lichty around the proposed Winnebago Landfill plan just STINKS.

For the truth, simply take a car ride on I-90, enjoy the open farm fields, the slow driver in the fast lane that is always there, and play “Count the Trash Trucks” coming to and from Chicago.

We recently did just that, wondering what the count might be. We were able to count 12 garbage trucks in just 20 minutes.

The trash is flying into our county every day, taking up our landfill space, and paying an insultingly low host agreement rate.

Host Agreement,” as if to mean we are only hosting the trash when, in fact, the trash is here to stay, and we are faced with expanding our landfill. This time, the company would like to add another 200 acres.

Lichty, seen on television and quoted in the news, wants you to believe this is progress for Winnebago County. After all, this landfill keeps 200 people employed, creates dozens of construction jobs each year, and brings in millions.

There’s just one issue: The math of this proposal does not seem to add up.

The original landfill of 433.5 acres had a capacity of 21 million cubic yards of space to place trash, or a little more than 6 million tons of trash.

The proposed acre increase of 200 acres would add around 10 million cubic yards of space, or 3 million tons of trash.

In 2010, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the Winnebago Landfill took in 1.5 million tons of trash. This proposed increase of adding 200 acres would only buy our county two years of capacity by using the 2010 numbers.

Anyone want to bet the 2011 and 2012 trash tonnage poured into our county is higher than 1.5 million tons a year? With apparently only two years’ capacity being added, why is Lichty quoted as stating an income figure for 25 years?

In looking into the quoted income of $109 million for those 25 years of trash bliss for our county, another oddity shows up. At a rate of 1.5 million tons of trash per year, multiplied by the figure from Lichty of $3.30 per ton of trash, you get an income of a little more than $5 million per year, or $129 million in 25 years, if trash intact stays constant. Lichty is quoted as stating only $109 million. Who gets the other $20 million?

In looking into the other “facts” we hear constantly about William Charles selling the landfill to Lichty of RRES, other abnormalities appear. If you simply Google “William Charles” and “Winnebago Landfill,” the first link listed is, a page dedicated to the Winnebago Landfill.

Google “John Lichty” and you get his own created profile on LinkedIn stating he is the vice president of William Charles Waste Companies and president and CEO of Rock River Environmental Services. Those of you who go to work each day and have a boss, would it be possible for you to be a CEO of a major company and a vice president of another and not get your hats confused in the morning?

In looking at the IEPA permits for the Winnebago Landfill, the permits list the address of 5450 Wansford Way for communications. According to the sign, this address is home of William Charles Waste Companies, WC Environmental Services and WC Energy, no mention of the separate company of Rock River Environmental Services.

We can all sit back and continue to let the same people run amok in our county. It is time to stop all these backroom deals, private meetings and promises made behind closed doors.

Pay attention and hold Winnebago County leaders responsible for putting special-interest groups ahead of the citizens of Winnebago County. Attend the three hearings scheduled with regard to this expansion. Hearings with registered parties on the proposed expansion of the landfill will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, April 23, and continue through that week, with the exception of Wednesday, April 25. Public participation hearings will be from 6 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, April 24, and, if necessary, from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, April 30, in the Winnebago County Board Room, 400 W. State St., eighth floor, Rockford.

Region One: Northwestern Illinois landfills

All seven landfills in Northwestern Illinois Region remained open throughout 2010. Four landfills in Region One were in the top 10 rankings of all the state’s landfills in terms of waste receipts in 2010.

Veolia ES Orchard Hills Landfill Inc., Davis Junction, ranked first in the state by accepting more than 6.8 million gate cubic yards; Winnebago Landfill, Rockford, was second, accepting more than 5.1 million gate cubic yards; Prairie Hill RDF, Morrison, was seventh, receiving more than 2.2 million gate cubic yards; and Lee County Landfill, Inc., Dixon, was eighth with more than 1.5 million gate cubic yards of municipal solid waste accepted for disposal.

Region One’s seven active facilities received more than 16.5 million gate cubic yards of municipal waste in 2010. The waste receipts for 2010 showed that more than 1.2 million gate cubic yards waste was received than the year before. The waste receipts increased year to year by 7.9 percent.

Out-of-state waste accepted from California, Iowa and Wisconsin

LandComp Landfill, Ottawa, reported accepting waste from the state of California. Prairie Hill RDF reported accepting waste from the state of Iowa. Veolia ES Orchard Hills Landfill Inc. accepted waste from the state of Wisconsin. Altogether, this total of 181,231 gate cubic yards amounted to 1 percent of the total waste accepted in the region’s landfills.

Capacity decline of 19.5 percent reported as of Jan. 1, 2011

Capacity available for waste disposal in the region declined by 19.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, by a total of more than 55.3 million gate cubic yards. The capacity available in the region is reported Jan. 1, 2011, by Illinois landfill operators to be more than 228.6 million gate cubic yards. This region was one of five in the state reporting declining capacity. Also reporting declining capacity were Region Four: East Central Illinois; Region Five: West Central Illinois; Region Six: St. Louis Metropolitan East; and Region Seven: Southern Illinois.

Fourteen years of capacity remain for the region as of Jan. 1, 2011: three landfills rank in top 10 listing of largest landfills

This region is second in the state behind Region Three: Peoria/Quad Cities, in remaining capacity, with a 21.9 percent capacity share. Veolia ES Orchard Hills Landfill reported almost 90.2 million gate cubic yards of space available as of Jan. 1, 2011, making it third in the state in capacity rankings on that date. Lee County Landfill Inc. reported the fifth largest capacity, at 58.7 million gate cubic yards. Prairie Hill RDF reported more than 45.6 million gate cubic yards of capacity available and ranks eighth.

The region’s seven landfills may provide 14 more years of waste disposal capacity for the region, which ties the number of years available in Region Two: the Chicago Metropolitan Area.

Region One covers the following 12 counties: Boone, Bureau, Carroll, DeKalb, JoDaviess, LaSalle, Lee, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago.

From the April 18-24, 2012, issue

One thought on “Guest Column: Winnebago Landfill rhetoric stinks — all for two-year capacity increase

  • Apr 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Ladies, ladies…although I have the utmost respect and admiration for your perseverence and research…don’t you know that this is a “done deal”? Whenever the William Charles conglomerate and the Scott Christiansen “good ol’ boys” put their heads together toward a common goal, it’s all over. There will be hearings and opposition witnesses delivering research figures and evidence supporting the opposition. Then attorneys representing William Charles will pick apart their testimony and produce paid “expert” witnesses to support the landfill. Board members will pretend to listen attentively, but they all will know that the decision had already been made behind closed doors. And if you’re wondering where that $20 million went, I would venture a wild guess that some of it will land in the political coffers of our loyal county board members.
    If I were a betting man, my money would be on William Charles and the “good ol’ boys” of the County Board. But I hope that I would lose.

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