41. ILLEGAL DUMPING
Is disposal of solid waste in an unpermitted area. Illegally dumped wastes are primarily non-hazardous materials that are dumped to avoid disposal fees or the time and effort required for proper disposal.
This chapter of the Douglas County Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan (DCCSWMP) outlines the regulatory framework overseeing illegal dumping, discusses the existing conditions and programs within the Regional Planning Area (RPA), establishes objectives to meet the existing and projected needs, identifies alternatives, and recommends actions for achieving the established objectives.
41.2 REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
41.2.1 Federal Requirements
Under 40 CFR 243, solid waste materials are required to be stored, collected and disposed of properly. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the federal agency given primary authority to assure that the requirements are met.
41.2.2 State Requirements
Under RCW 70.95.240 it is unlawful for any person to dump or deposit or permit the dumping or depositing of any solid waste onto or under the surface of the ground or into the waters of this state except at a solid waste disposal site for which there is a valid permit. This section does not prohibit a person from dumping or depositing solid waste resulting from his or her own activities onto or under the surface of ground owned or leased by him or her when such action does not violate statues or ordinances, or create a nuisance.
41.2.3 Local Requirements
Under RCW 70.05.070, the local health officer, acting under the direction of the local board of health shall prevent, control or abate nuisances that are detrimental to the public health. As per RCW 70.95.160 the local board of health shall adopt regulations or ordinances governing solid waste handling implementing the comprehensive solid waste management plan covering storage, collection, transportation, treatment, utilization, processing and final disposal including but not limited to the issuance of permits and the establishment of minimum levels and types of service for any aspect of solid waste handling. Such regulations or ordinances shall assure that solid waste storage and disposal facilities are located, maintained, and operated in a manner so as properly to protect the public health, prevent air and water pollution, are consistent with the priorities established in RCW 70.95.010, and avoid the creation of nuisances. Such regulations or ordinances adopted by the local board of health may be more stringent than the minimum functional standards adopted by the Department of Ecology (DOE).
Under WAC 173.304.600(2)(d), the Chelan-Douglas Health District (CDHD), prior to issuing a permit, shall investigate every application to determine whether the facilities meet all applicable laws and regulations, conforms with the approved comprehensive solid waste handling plan and complies with all zoning requirements. Under WAC 173.304.600 no facility can accept solid waste without the issuance of a permit from the CDHD and no solid waste can be disposed of at a facility that doesn't have a valid permit. Thus, the CDHD is given the authority to enforce regulations for dumping at unpermitted dumpsites, i.e. illegal and promiscuous dumpsites.
Within Douglas County no person shall deposit, discard or otherwise dispose of garbage, rubbish, solid waste, and swill upon any public place within the county or upon a private residence or other private property not owned by him/her, or in any waters within the county whether from a vehicle, watercraft, aircraft or otherwise, except:
- when such property is designated by the state or any of its agencies or the county for the disposal of solid waste, and such person is authorized by the appropriate permitting authority to so use such property;
- with the prior written consent of the landowner approving of such disposal upon their private property.
Additionally, within Douglas County all owners or persons in control of any private residence or other private property shall at all times maintain the premises free of any litter, garbage, rubbish, solid waste and swill that pose a risk to public health and safety, the environment or create a nuisance.
41.3 EXISTING CONDITIONS
The rural nature of the RPA provides a multitude of locations for illegal dumping and makes it difficult for these sites to be identified except by public complaints. The majority of solid waste materials improperly disposed of within the RPA are:
- abandoned autos
- construction and demolition waste
- inert waste
- municipal solid waste
- yard debris
Illegal dumping has become a major enforcement concern and will only increase as disposal rates increase.
The CDHD receives and investigates complaints of illegal dumping and nuisances throughout the RPA. These complaints come from many sources; residents, businesses, local and county agencies and the DOE. Once the CDHD staff identifies and investigates the complaint and determine that a violation has occurred a notice is sent out to the violating party asking them to clean up the site or abate the nuisance. Failure of the violating party to voluntarily clean up the site or abate the nuisance will lead to the CDHD issuing a notice of correction. The notice of correction will notify the violating party that they have a certain number of days to comply with the notice or face possible corrective action. Failure of the violator to comply with the notice of correction will force the CDHD to exercise a number of corrective actions allowed by law.
Currently, the CDHD receives Local Toxic Control Account (LTCA) funds from the DOE to assist them in performing solid waste enforcement actions required to provide public health protection. Specifically, these funds assist the CDHD in:
- perform initial assessment of complaints of solid waste violations, including but not limited to dumping complaints or waste storage, investigating sites and performing technical assistance and using enforcement measures as needed;
- overseeing the cleanup of illegal facilities and dumps, once identified, or bring them into full compliance with applicable laws and regulations;
- develop and maintain a database to track solid waste complaints and violations.
The control of illegal dumping of solid waste materials upon county right-of-way and upon county property rests with the Douglas County Sheriffs Office. Building code and zoning requirements are overseen by the Douglas County Transportation and Land Services Department (TLS). All complaints of illegal dumping or nuisance abatement upon private or non-county property is referred to the CDHD.
41.4.1 Ensure that the Public Health, Safety and Environment is Protected
With illegal and promiscuous disposal of solid waste posing a direct threat to the public health, safety and overall environment of the RPA, it is very important that generators of solid waste properly manage and dispose of their solid waste. Failure of a generator to properly manage or dispose of their solid waste can pose a direct threat to our land, air and water resources and damage the overall quality of our environment.
41.4.2 Ensure Compliance with All Federal, State and Local Regulations, Codes and Guidelines
With federal, state and local regulations specifying how solid wastes are to be collected, managed and disposed of it is very important that generators be properly educated. Failure of a generator to comply with these regulations can result in substantial penalties, fines and corrective actions.
41.4.3 Deter Illegal Dumping
With the illegal and promiscuous disposal of solid waste blighting our countryside, adversely affecting land values and consuming large sums of tax dollars to cleanup sites and prosecute violators it is very important that the abatement of illegal dumping throughout the RPA be undertaken. Failure of local enforcement authorities to deter illegal dumping will only lead to the continued improper disposal of solid waste materials throughout the RPA.
41.4.4 Respond to Public Complaints
The primary source for the identified of illegal dump sites within the RPA is by public complaints. It is therefore imperative that the public, have a high degree of confidence in the local enforcement authorities to assure them that their complaints will be taken seriously and that corrective action will be undertaken. Failure of local enforcement authorities to respond to the public's complaints will lead to their unwillingness to report such sites and only lead to the continued improper disposal of solid waste materials throughout the RPA.
41.4.5 Establish an Illegal Dumping Diversion Goal
It is the goal of the DCCSWMP to divert twenty percent of all illegal dumping into the municipal waste stream.
41.5.1 Enforce Illegal Dumping Regulations
As specified within RCW 70.95.240, after the adoption of regulations or ordinances by any county, city or jurisdictional board of health providing for the issuance of permits as provided in RCW 70.95.160, it shall be unlawful for any person* to dump or deposit or permit the dumping or depositing of any solid waste onto or under the surface of the ground or into the waters of this state except at a solid waste disposal site for which there is a valid permit. Under RCW 70.95.160 the CDHD is responsible for issuing all solid waste facility permits within the RPA. Any person dumping or depositing solid waste onto or under the surface of the ground or into the waters of the RPA without a solid waste facility permit issued by the CDHD is in violation of state and local regulations. All persons found to be dumping or depositing solid waste onto or under the surface of the ground or into the waters of the RPA may be punished as prescribed by state and local regulations. Additionally, within unincorporated areas of a county the court shall distribute one-half of the restitution payment to the landowner and one-half of the restitution payment to the jurisdictional health department investigating the incident.
Under this alternative, illegal dumping regulations would be enforced primarily by the CDHD. With the CDHD having intra-jurisdictional authority over all the participating jurisdictions and being responsible for enforcing state and local regulations pertaining to illegal dumping it would seem that the CDHD would be the appropriate agency to investigate, abate and enforce illegal dumping.
*reference RCW 70.95.240 for exceptions
41.5.2 Enforce Nuisance Regulations
As specified within RCW 70.05.060(5), each local board of health shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to the preservation of the life and health of people within its jurisdictions and shall provide for the prevention, control and abatement of nuisances detrimental to the public health. Under RCW 70.05.070(5) the local health officer, acting under the direction of the local board of health or under the direction of the administrative officer appointed under RCW 70.05.040 or 70.05.035, if any, shall prevent, control or abate nuisances which are detrimental to the public health. Therefore it is clear that the CDHD is responsible for the prevention, control and abatement of nuisances detrimental to public health within the RPA.
Under this alternative, nuisance regulations would be enforced by the CDHD. With the CDHD having intra-jurisdictional authority over all the participating jurisdictions and being responsible for enforcing state and local regulations pertaining to nuisances it would seem that the CDHD would be the appropriate agency to investigate, abate and enforce nuisances.
41.5.3 Develop a Countywide Uniform Illegal Dumping Ordinance
Recognizing that the enforcement of illegal dumping by the CDHD could be hindered by separate and conflicting local regulations a countywide uniform illegal dumping ordinance should be developed and adopted. Therefore, with the assistance of the Douglas County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) the DCSWPO should develop a `model' Countywide Uniform Illegal Dumping Ordinance. Each participating jurisdiction could then adopt their own illegal dumping ordinance, which would be modeled after the Countywide Uniform Illegal Dumping Ordinance. This would ensure uniformity of illegal dumping regulations and requirements countywide and make it more effective to enforce and to educate the public.
41.5.4 Develop a Rural Drop Box Program
To help alleviate illegal dumping throughout the unincorporated areas of Douglas County, sixteen (16) rural drop box collection facilities should be constructed and maintained within the rural areas of the RPA. These permitted collection facilities would be unstaffed, fenced, gated, lit facilities with a designated loading area with two 40 yard drop box containers. Each collection facility would have established operating days and hours and would comply with the requirements set forth in WAC 173.304. Each collection facility would be sited in close proximity to identified rural population centers located throughout the RPA to allow maximum convenience for the public in order to deter illegal dumping. The collection facilities would be serviced by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) certified hauler for the franchised area that they are located in. Therefore, if the collection facilities were within the Waste Management of Greater Wenatchee's (WMGW) franchised area, then WMGW would be responsible for the collection and operation of the collection facilities. It would be the responsibility of Douglas County to maintain and keep up the collection facilities.
Prior to implementation of this program a needs assessment, feasibility and cost study should be conducted to examine whether the construction and implementation of such a program would be worth while.
41.5.5 Encourage Free Dump Days within Identified Urban Growth Areas of the RPA
Under this alternative, Douglas County would amend its existing Minimum Levels of Service (MLS) ordinance to include free dump days similar to what each municipal waste hauler provides within their municipal agreements. These free dump days would only be available to county residence who reside within identified Urban Growth Areas (UGA) and would not be available to commercial businesses. By amending the MLS ordinance, Douglas County could require its WUTC certified haulers to offer free dump days as part of their required service levels. Each WUTC certified hauler could than apply to the WUTC for a rate adjustment to provide this additional level of service. Once approved by the WUTC, the certified hauler could implement the service and pass through the cost of the additional level of service to its customers within the identified UGA.
41.5.6 Improve Interagency Coordination and Cooperation
Though the CDHD has primary responsibility for enforcing illegal dumping regulations, there are other state and local agencies and authorities that are also authorized to enforce illegal dumping. Under RCW 70.93.050; state patrol officers, wildlife agents, fire wardens, deputy fire wardens and forest rangers, sheriffs and marshals and their deputies, and police officers, and those employees of the DOE and the parks and recreation commission vested with police powers, all shall enforce the provisions of the Model Litter Control Act (MLCA). Under Douglas County Resolution C.E. 95-069B, enforcement of the Uniform Litter Control Code may be by any law enforcement officer, fire department and building department personnel, jurisdictional health department personnel and those public agencies charged with the responsibility of operating and maintaining public places. As can be seen by this list, a wide variety of agencies and authorities are responsible for enforcing illegal dumping within the RPA. In order for any illegal dumping enforcement program to be effective all the agencies and authorities involved, including the court system, must agree to support the effort and play a part. Under this alternative, a regional illegal dumping taskforce would be formed to develop a regional illegal dumping abatement program. Once the illegal dumping abatement program is developed an enforcement strategy should be implemented, with support from all the agencies and authorities.
41.5.7 Develop a Countywide Public Complaint Tracking Program
With illegal dumping occurring throughout the RPA, but primarily within the unincorporated areas of Douglas County, it would be beneficial to develop a countywide public complaint program. This program would document the number of public complaints, identify the type of complaints, plot the geographic location of the complaints and help determine illegal dumping "hot-zones" within the RPA. Once these zones were established, enforcement and education efforts could be concentrated within them to maximize the limited resources and staff available. In order to be effective the public has to have faith in the program and believe that their complaints will be followed up, taken seriously and enforced.
41.5.8 Develop an Illegal Dumping Education Program
The DCSWPO should develop an illegal dumping education program. This program would specifically provide the public with information about how much illegal dumping is occurring within the RPA, what materials are being illegally dumped, identification of "hot-zones" within the RPA and how much it is costing to clean-up and abate. The program could provide information on what is an illegal dump, what type of illegal dumping is occurring, where it is occurring and other similar information. The DCSWPO should develop brochures and information sheets to educate the public and regulatory authorities about illegal dumping and its abatement.
41.5.9 Monitor and Track Illegal Dumping
The DCSWPO needs to monitor and track all illegal dumping to determine what is being dumped, the volume being dumped, where it is being dumped and what it costs to clean-up and abate. Without knowing these basic facts, it is impossible to develop an illegal dumping abatement program or implement an enforcement strategy for the RPA. Therefore, the DCSWPO should establish a data tracking program that monitors and tracks all illegal dumping occurring within the RPA annually.
41.6.1 Enforce Illegal Dumping Regulations
41.6.2 Enforce Nuisance Regulations
41.6.3 Adopt a Countywide Uniform Illegal Dumping Ordinance
41.6.4 Conduct a Rural Drop Box Program Needs Assessment, Feasibility, and Cost Study
41.6.5 Encourage Free Dump Days within Identified Urban Growth Areas of the RPA
41.6.6 Improve Interagency Coordination and Cooperation
41.6.7 Implement a Countywide Public Complaint Tracking Program
41.6.8 Implement an Illegal Dumping Education Program
41.6.9 Monitor and Track Illegal Dumping