Bernalillo County trying to put an end to illegal dumping


There’s a new push to keep people from littering just about anything and everything on the outskirts of Albuquerque.

For years, people have been dumping trash, furniture, appliances, even toxic chemicals. People who live in the South Valley say they see this all the time, and they’ll welcome any effort to end what seems like a never-ending cycle of lawbreaking. 

Hundreds of old tires, mattresses, and piles on piles of trash cover parts of the Pajarito Mesa. 

“it just ludicrous what’s going on [around] here,” says Rudy Candelaria

It’s a problem that Bernalillo County officials say is escalating on the mesa and around the county.

“The illegal dumping issue has become a bit of an epidemic,” says Enrico Gradi, Director of Planning and Development Services Department. 

People who live on the mesa have even posted their own signs. Now, the county is trying to put a halt to all the illegal dumping. They are working with the with a sheriff’s office to make it happen. 

“Creating situations where it’s less comfortable for those areas to be dumped on,” Gradi says. 

They are starting this initiative on the Pajarito Mesa and  in the South Valley, using all-terrain vehicles to track down the off-the-grid dump sites and increase patrols 

“The sheriff’s office is looking at drones and overhead surveillance, to also have surveillance so we can detect when and where areas are being dumped on,” Gradi says. 

County officials say signs and surveillance are just the first steps in getting rid of all this stuff, but they also want to educate the community on the resources available to them.

“Maybe vouchers, maybe other programs that we can give people options…we want to give people options to be able to deal with this materials,” says Health Protection Manager Lucas Tafoya. 

The sheriff’s office is in the process of buying a drone and will have to be certified before they can start using it for surveillance.

The county is not responsible for cleaning the majority of the mesa because most of the land is privately owned. However, property owners can be cited for not cleaning up a mess.

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