Our state is quite spectacular; with an average of 28.1 people per square mile, Nevada has one of the lowest population densities in the United States, so it’s easy to step into our hills and truly “get away.” In fact, more than 80% of Nevada’s land (56.97 million acres) is publicly owned, meaning we have a serious abundance of wide, open spaces. With all of these open spaces, there are numerous opportunities to use it, whether it be for recreation or means of living. As a matter of fact, according to the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate, proximity to clean, open spaces raises property values by 20% or more. When these open spaces are taken advantage of, however, it takes a toll on the environment, property values, and even quality of life.
Illegal dumping is a huge problem in our community as well as in our state. An illegal dumpsite is, essentially, litter on a larger scale. Once one item is illegally dumped, other items will soon follow. Not only is illegal dumping detrimental to the environment, but it is also expensive: the U.S. spends $11.5 billion each year on litter cleanups alone, and 80% of that cost is paid by businesses. To put things in perspective, for an individual to properly dispose of a tire, it would cost $3, but to clean up that tire from an illegal dumpsite, it would cost $40 – taking into consideration the resources, the transportation, and the manpower to properly dispose of that item.
Illegal Dumping in the Truckee Meadows
Illegal dumping has been on the rise within the last decade: growing from 13 cases sent to the District Attorney’s office in 2014, to 58 cases in 2019. However, the District Attorney’s Office has established a Zero Tolerance Policy for offenses relating to illegal dumping – resulting in 48 of those 58 cases in 2019 leading to a conviction. Justice is being served, however, the rate of illegal disposal is at an all time high. One of the most popular items illegally disposed of in the Truckee Meadows is vehicles; between 2012 and 2016, 163 vehicles were found abandoned. In 2018 alone, 600 vehicles were found abandoned. When buying a used vehicle, it is not mandatory in Nevada for the new owner to transfer the vehicle’s title to their name; therefore, there is often not a traceable record of who the new owner is. This can make it extremely difficult if a vehicle is illegally dumped to track down the individual who may have dumped that vehicle and hold them accountable.
What can we do about it?
Luckily, there are ways in which community members can help combat illegal dumping. Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful coordinates the Illegal Dumping Task Force which is a collaborative of local agencies with a goal of addressing illegal dumping and finding solutions. The Illegal Dumping Task Force helped establish the Illegal Dumping Hotline Number: 329-DUMP – if you are out enjoying Nevada’s open spaces and you spot an illegal dumpsite, please call 329-DUMP! To report individuals who are actively illegally dumping waste, please call the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch number at (775) 785-WCSO. The dumpsites that are reported via the Illegal Dumping Hotline Number will be recorded and may even become potential cleanup sites for KTMB’s community clean up events!