[ADEQ Media] ADEQ Director Owens Leads Yuma Forum on Illegal Dumping

Fri Mar 7 09:24:54 MST 2008

ADEQ Director Owens Leads Yuma Forum on Illegal Dumping

YUMA (March 7, 2008)  - Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
(ADEQ) Director Steve Owens today told city and county officials that
prevention is the best solution to illegal dumping of trash in Arizona.

Director Owens led a forum on illegal dumping at the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation (USBR) Yuma Office and Yuma Desalting Plant. Citizens and
public officials from throughout the state exchanged ideas and
techniques on how to prevent and deal with the problem of illegal

"Illegal dumping is a major problem in the Yuma area and throughout
Arizona and dealing with illegal dumping is a priority for ADEQ,"
Director Owens said. "Illegal dumps present serious environmental issues
because they have hazardous materials that can contaminate soil and
groundwater.  These dump sites also create health risks because they
serve as 'vectors' for rodents and vermin that carry diseases, and they
create problems for property values and economic development."

Director Owens added that parts of Southern Arizona are experiencing
particular problems with dumping by people crossing the border illegally
who are contaminating the desert with clothes, medicine and medical
devices, personal care products and other potentially hazardous items. 

"The trashing of the desert by border crossers is a huge problem,"
Director Owens said. "We have been working with officials at the federal
and local levels, as well as community groups, to develop a strategy for
addressing this enormous issue and organizing cleanups of waste that has
been left in the desert."  
Owens said that he established ADEQ's Illegal Dumping Prevention Program
to provide assistance to local officials who deal with illegal dumping
and to help inform the public about the problem. The program identifies
opportunities for ADEQ to support local government and community
prevention efforts across Arizona.  He added that ADEQ is also helping
local communities with enforcement against illegal dumpers. 

"One challenge is that many people who are dumping materials in the
desert and elsewhere don't think they will be caught," Owens said.
"There also are others who have the mistaken idea that it's legal to
create these dump sites. Our experience has shown that aggressive,
coordinated enforcement combined with good outreach efforts to inform
the public can go a long way towards addressing the problem."


News media interested in additional information on this or any other
topic concerning the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality should
contact the Office of Communications at (602) 771-2215 or via email at

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