City of Abilene struggles with illegal dumping


ABILENE, Texas - Illegal dumping in Abilene costs the city and taxpayers thousands of dollars every year. Within the last two weeks, the city had to hire on its second environmental crimes officer to help fight back.

"Abilene has a big problem with illegal dumping," Environmental Crimes Officer Bill Whitley said. "Some of it is outright, just rude and inconsiderate dumping in a vacant lot. And some of it is just due to a lack of education on how to dispose of your household waste in your alley."

Whitley said this carelessness costs taxpayers big bucks. The problem is so immense, it is difficult for the city to pinpoint exactly how much money they spend each year to combat illegal dumping.

"If there's no way we can find out who dumped it, then a lot of times we just have to ask some city solid waste, storm water--some divisions like that to ask them to come clean it up. Of course that's taking time and money out of their budget so in the end the taxpayers pay for all the stuff that people dump," Whitley said.

Illegal dumping also has environmental repercussions.

"We've caught people who changed the oil in their car then take the used motor oil and dump it in a storm drain," Whitley said. "So I don't think people realize that all ends up in Ft. Phantom Lake."

Lake Ft. Phantom is one resource for Abilene's drinking water.

If garbage trucks cannot take your trash away, Abilene does have a landfill. Anything under one ton costs only $13 and each ton costs $25. Fines for illegal dumping can cost thousands.

So far this year, the city has investigated 199 misdemeanor and 16 felony illegal dumping cases. They have identified 180 violators as of Monday and routinely investigate six "chronic" dump sites.