Dump site gets cleanup
Dump site gets cleanup
Group removes illegally dumped trash near Patoka River watershed
OAKLAND CITY—Everything but the kitchen sink.
That’s what a group of volunteers found while cleaning up an illegal dumping ground on County Road 50 South, near County Road 950 East Wednesday morning.
The cleanup, organized by Lower and Middle Patoka Watershed Coordinator Julie Loehr, included a mile-long stretch of road with steep embankments near the Patoka River bottoms.
Overflow water from the river fills the area during periods of heavy rain, spreading out debris.
“Several people have been involved in illegal dumping and that affects our water quality in a negative way,” Loehr said while crews removed a variety of large and small debris.
“Everything we found out here was pretty much household waste and trash. Everything from couches and mattresses to Coke bottles and milk jugs.”
Crews used a truck with a winch to haul couches, mattresses, pool liners, and tires buried in the muck, up to the road where they were taken to a dumpster with a backhoe. The dumpster was nearly full after two hours of work.
“Those tires have probably been there for 30 years,” Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge Specialist Heath Hamilton said as he worked the controls of the wench to drag up a group of tires.
All of the illegally dumped trash, except for the dozens of tires, removed Wednesday, can be taken to a Gibson County Solid Waste District site and disposed for free Loeher said.
“Unfortunately, we even found bags of household trash. I think if you get to the point of spending time to bag it up, you might as well just go ahead and take it to the sites we have to dump them, instead of out here,” she said.
Crews from the Gibson County Highway Department, Gibson County Solid Waste Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and volunteers from the Friends of the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge helped remove the trash with supplies donated by F&M Building Supplies and Rural King, in hopes of improving the quality of water.
“Sometimes when we pollute our waterways, we don’t think we are actually going to drink that water. But that water standing down there actually ends up recycling back into our drinking water system,” Loeher said. Water is is not a renewable resource and can only be recycled, she said.
“We are trying to protect that at the source, so that it makes it a little cheaper and easier for us to clean it up so it gets to your tap like it should be.”
Preserving wetlands is important for drinking water and the natural habitat of wildlife.
While removing trash near the waters’ edge, Hamilton found groups of spotted and small-mouth salamanders in the leaves.
“They come to these wetlands, it’s their breeding pools basically in the spring. These wetlands are full of diversity,” Hamilton said, pointing out varieties of wildflowers on the other side of the road.
Another cleanup on County Road 1150 East will be scheduled later.
There are multiple sites where large and small trash items can be dropped off for free disposal in Gibson County.