Illegal dumping puts groundwater at risk
October 17, 2007
A stretch of Bureau of Land Management land in Dayton off Como Road, where a Lyon County Utilities monitoring well is located, had everything on it but the kitchen sink.
It had a bathtub and shower, a recliner, a mattress, but no kitchen sink – at least not yet.
Illegal dumping has been rampant at the site, located next to the gravel pit, and county utilities officials are concerned that debris and hazardous liquids could seep into the groundwater and pollute the new monitoring well.
Jim Youngblood, utilities supervisor, pointed to a darkened spot of earth where motor oil had been dumped about 200 feet from the well.
“That’s very hazardous,” he said. “We don’t want any trash here, but we especially don’t want the hazardous because it goes into the groundwater and we all have to drink it.”
Fourteen workers from the utilities department on Wednesday brought a backhoe, a small tractor and a lot of energy to clean up the mess.
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Waste Management donated two 30-yard bins and will take the debris to the dump at no cost to the county, Youngblood said.
“We’re just trying to protect the source of the water,” he said. “The well is secure, people can’t walk up to it and dump stuff down, but if something seeps into the groundwater it can impact the well.”
Old car batteries were stacked up and riddled with shotgun blasts, the shooters leaving the shells behind scattered on the ground. Paint cans, bug killer, starting fluid and other chemicals were also dumped at the site. There were also numerous stacks of landscaping and construction debris.
“That had to come from a landscaping company,” Youngblood said, pointing to a half-dozen neatly packed squares of dead grass, landscape trim and piles of sod. “It came from a big truck.”
Broken plastic bags filled with household trash were strewn about, and on one pile, two items with names were located.
One was an envelope addressed to the parents of a Dayton High School student, from a college planning and funding firm.
The other was a medical bill, informing a patient about the cost of a chlamydia test.
Both will be turned over to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff Allen Veil said the individuals with be contacted about the trash, or the matter could be turned over to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.
Youngblood said the Dayton Transfer Station on Enterprise Road off of Highway 50 only charges $6 to $8 for a pickup-load of trash.
It took the crew about 2.5 hours to clean the area, costing the county about $1,000 in man-hours, according to Mike Workman, utilities director.
“That’s one of the things with this crew that makes me really proud,” he said. “They are committed to the environmental side of their jobs. It’s not every crew that would do that kind of thing.”
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-7351.