City of

District 15

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Contact Information

Home Address:

4117 Major Ave.
Madison , WI 53716

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Ahrens’ Updates

The Flood of 2018 and more

August 30, 2018 9:25 PM


Pinney Library on the Move!

Pinney Library will move to the (former) Ace Hardware site for about one year starting in Jan. 2019. As you know, there is a gap between the demolition of the current library building and the opening of the new library at Royster Corners on Dempsey and Cottage Grove Road. This move will ensure that library services will continue with very limited interruption.

The Ace Hardware building wasn't built to serve as a library and it is in pretty bad condition. New electrical to support the many computers and new lighting along with built features such as the check-out and circulation desks will be installed. Because the main floor isn't large enough to house all of the books and equipment, the basement of Ace will be also be rebuilt.

Then there's the small problem of moving all of the books, discs, etc. across the street and reorganized. When the plan was to move along the same side of Cottage Grove (and not across the street), I thought it would be fun to organize a "fire-bucket line" of a few hundred volunteers to pass books to the new site. But moving in mid-December and crossing the street would make that difficult.

The Flood of 2018.

I'm writing this the day after communities a mere 60 miles north got 12+ inches of rain while we got an inch. If we had been hit with this second (and larger) deluge in a week, any area within a half mile of a river/creek or lake would now be under water. Monona would have overflowed beyond Olbrich Park, Starkweather Creek would become a powerful river overflowing its banks, etc.

But with lakes at or near-record levels, it will only take another inch or two this weekend or anytime in the next two weeks for the flooding to continue.

I met with the department managers and Mayor today-most have been working nearly around the clock since the rain began on August 20th. Hundreds of city employees from Streets, Parks, Fire and Engineering have made an enormous effort to limit the impact of the storm. A thousand volunteers (I'm guessing) have filled and distributed over 10,000 sandbags.

 One volunteer, my colleague on the Council, Matt Phair and his wife Connie, jumped into a water-filled ditch to help the occupants of a car get out. They saved three people, but one man could not be held against the torrents of the storm and was swept away. When he was asked why they risked their lives by jumping into a ditch of unknown depth, he said, "Anyone would do it (to save lives)."

Does anyone think that Madison's worst "rain-event" in 150 years will not be repeated for another 150 years?Or more likely in within the next ten?  No one knows when it will happen again but when it does, as a city, we'll be better able to deal with it.

"Dealing" with these storms doesn't just mean building bigger storm sewers. The water flowing through the water mains winds up in the lakes and rivers and floods someone else.

 We can't stop big rain storms. But we can reduce the amount of water running through the storm drains.  For example, we can plant trees that consume over 50 gallons of water per day and green spaces that absorbs water instead of cement surfaces that results in more water run-off. Plant and tree buffers in parking lots reduce the water that winds up in the lakes. We should also consider lowering Lake Mendota by a few feet so that it can take on more stormwater.

Some other points from my meeting today with senior staff and the Mayor:

If you have any storm-related damage call 211 and report it. It will help you and the city with its FEMA application.
Do NOT swim or even boat in the lakes. Thousands of gallons of water from the sanitary sewers have back-loaded into the lakes along with tons for debris, heavy metals, etc. from the streets.
If you have sandbags do not dispose of them. This "rain-event" may take weeks to subside and we can be back in crisis mode again.
The city has not begun to assess the extent of the damage to public and private property. But, it will be expensive both to individuals and the city as a whole.


The Cost of Water: Up and Up:

The Public Service Commission held a hearing on the Water Utility's proposed 30% increase in rates. It was "conveniently" held at 2 PM. Of course, most Utility customers could not attend the hearing but nevertheless, over 150 sent comments to the PSC in opposition to the rate hike.There is little doubt that the increase will be granted and that it will go into effect in November or December. This will be the first of a series of big increases over the next two years.

The rate increase was proposed before the Utility disclosed that it had run up a $6 million deficit on a budget of $40 million. The City agreed to lend the Utility funds to continue its operations. In response to this and other problems, the Water Utility Board voted not to renew the contract of the Utility's General Manager.

Note: Water quality has not been affected by the flood. Madison water is pumped from deep aquifers, not from the lakes.


No Refuse, Recycling, or Large Item Collections on Labor Day

There will be no refuse, recycling, or large item collection on Monday, September 3 in observance of the Labor Day holiday.  The drop-off sites will also be closed on September 3. 

If you normally have your refuse and recycling collected on Mondays, place your carts to the curb for collection by 7am on Tuesday, September 4.  Only residents within the Monday district will have their collection of refuse and recycling delayed due to the holiday. Refuse and recycling for the Tuesday district will also be collected on September 4. 

Have a safe and hopefully, dry, Labor Day.

Positively Eastside,



Tags: Flood

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