SNOW HILL – County officials agreed to launch an educational campaign in an effort to curb illegal dumping throughout Worcester County.
The Worcester County Commissioners last week told staff to move forward with plans to begin a public education campaign to discourage illegal dumping and littering along county roads and at local recycling stations. The county is also exploring the purchase and installation of surveillance cameras at unmanned recycling stations.
“We feel as though it’s important to get the education, the knowledge, out there to the citizens with some sort of public information, anti-littering campaign,” said John Tustin, the county’s director of public works.
Tustin told the commissioners various county departments met in April to discuss the issue of litter and trash dumping throughout the county. After a lengthy discussion, the group agreed the county should first focus on education. Tustin noted that Sussex County was in the midst of an anti-littering campaign.
“We want to try to mirror that,” he said.
Tustin said that while the group discussed using inmates from the Worcester County Jail or Eastern Correctional Institution to help address litter cleanup, they’d determined it wasn’t feasible.
“Neither one of those institutions have the equipment or the manpower at this time to staff any sort of ongoing program,” he said.
Tustin said his department consulted a local firm regarding pricing for litter pickup along county roads and had been told it would cost $1,214 a day.
“That would be about $126,000 a year for two days a week,” he said. “In excess of $250,000 for four days a week.”
Moving on to the issue of enforcement, Tustin said there was a public health article that allowed the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office to fine a citizen if a dumped bag of trash included items with individuals’ names.
“We want to start possibly looking at doing that,” Tustin said, adding that the county could even publish the names of violators.
As far as trash dumped at recycling centers — an ongoing problem, particularly at Walmart and in Whaleyville and Bishopville — Tustin said his department was exploring pricing on video surveillance.
“We’re still putting pricing together,” he said. “We will get back to you with some sort of program in the near future.”
Commissioner Ted Elder agreed that dumping at the recycling centers was a serious problem. He also suggested that the county should involve local school children in its anti-littering campaign, perhaps by sending information home with students.
Commissioner Chip Bertino agreed.
“If the kids are in the back seat telling mommy and daddy they’re doing wrong that goes a long way,” he said.
Commissioner Diana Purnell said she believed there was a lot of trash being thrown out in the Ocean City and West Ocean City area by owners of rental properties.
“I think video surveillance at the recycling centers is going to be the biggest thing,” Tustin said. “You’re not going to see 20, 30 mattresses dumped alongside of the road but you might see them dumped at the recycling center.”