Tires, furniture and household trash are just some of the items that often fill the creeks and overpasses of rural Southern Oklahoma.
On Tuesday, July 30, a new bill aimed at addressing illegal and irresponsible trash dumping was signed into law. Carter County District 3 Commissioner Jerry Alvord was at the Oklahoma State Capitol to witness the signing of House Bill 1110.
Alvord said he had played a small part in backing the bill, which doubles the minimum fine from $100 to $200 and increases the total amount those convicted of the illegally dumping their trash can be fined.
“If you get caught dumping out a cup out of your window, it would be up to the officer’s discretion, but when there’s trash dumping of piles, couches or refrigerators, that kind of thing, upon conviction it can be in the thousands,” Alvord said.
The money that is created from these fines will go back into the county and law enforcement agencies, Alvord said, potentially saving tax payers dollars.
Ardmore Beautification Council Executive Director Julie Maher said she was very happy to see the bill pass and believes it will contribute to helping solve the litter problem, not only in Carter County but the state.
“The thing is that illegal dumping is pervasive in our society,” Maher said. “Anytime that we can bring this issue to light is important and I think that this bill will help our enforcement agencies to actually say this is wrong for our community.”
Stronger laws and higher fines will ideally give law enforcement and local government agencies more of an opportunity to take action on the issue than they have in the past, Maher said.
“That’s one of the problems, I think, with a lot of local governments is that they say ‘Don’t do that’ but then they never give you enough ordinances and ways to say you’re going to be fined for this and we’re going to find it and we’re going to find you,” Maher said.
Maher said millions of dollars are spent on cleaning up trash every year. And rural areas near creeks and overpasses often see the brunt of the problem.
As someone who lives near a creek in East Ardmore and who knows individuals who live just outside of city limits, Maher said she witnesses the problem firsthand.
“People dump in that creek all the time. Why would you do that? It just makes no sense at all. I don’t understand that,” Maher said. “If people would just be conscious of their efforts I think we would cut down on our litter problem.”
Alvord said the bill is an overall positive move for the community and will ideally deter individuals from dumping their trash where it doesn’t belong.
“It’s a sad deal that people want to do that kind of thing and, like with any laws, our hopes are to discourage any future trash dumping and encourage people to take care of their trash in a correct and mannerly fashion,” Alvord said.