Illegal dumping endangers water supply

Illegal dumping endangers water supply
Posted on 06/23/2022

El Paso Water employees see it every day, and it’s not pretty. Old furniture, mattresses and mounds of trash mar El Paso’s waterways, as well as the region’s natural desert landscape.

EPWater, the City of El Paso Environmental Services Department (ESD) and the El Paso County Water Improvement District #1 are joining to raise awareness of illegal dumping and its threat to public health and safety. El Pasoans are urged to take a stand against the growing problem and report illegal dumpers to 311. Illegal dumping is a Class C misdemeanor, and violators can face fines up to $4,000.

Threatening health, safety

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash are illegally dumped in ditches, arroyos and across El Paso every year. Toxic substances from construction debris and autos can leach into the soil and contaminate waterways.

The problem is especially compounded during monsoon season – June 15 to Sept. 30 – when trash clogs stormwater channels and inlets, prompting flooding in El Paso’s neighborhoods.

“Illegal dumping is a big problem in El Paso, and everybody needs to do their part to stop it,” EPWater President and CEO John Balliew said. “Our crews dedicate a significant amount of time and money to clear trash from drains and canals – funds that could be better spent building stormwater projects that remove water from our streets.”

Ellen Smyth, Managing Director of ESD, welcomed the collaboration with EPWater to combine resources and reach more residents.

“Illegal dumping is a huge problem in the El Paso area because of the vast open spaces located around the city,” Smyth said. “These trash piles attract many health hazards, such as rodents, mosquitoes and illicit drug paraphernalia. And when substances such as paint, oil or pool chemicals are dumped, they can ultimately end up in our water supply.”

Taking action

El Paso residents may dispose of any large trash or waste at the Citizen Collection Centers that ESD operates throughout the city:

  • Northeast: 4501 Hondo Pass Drive
  • Central: 2492 Harrison Ave.
  • West Side: 121 Atlantic Road
  • East Side: 1034 Pendale Road
  • East Side: 3510 Confederate Drive

Tipped off by customers, EPWater Code Compliance employees frequently check out complaints of illegal dumping of yard or dog waste, as well as gripes against shady small businesses that promise to take their junk to a landfill but dump it in the desert instead.

“People need to know that whoever hauls off their junk should provide proof of legal disposal,” said Sonia Wyatt, Code Compliance Manager. “They should also be made aware that if their trash is found illegally dumped, they are liable.”

Click here for more information on illegal dumping.

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