Home garbage restrictions considered
By: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
People would no longer be allowed to dispose of household trash in their backyards under a bill state lawmakers are considering.
The way state law is written right now is pretty specific. Property owners are not allowed to open up their back yards to dump or bury other peoples’ trash, and they can’t bring home garbage from work and dump it on their private property. But when it comes to trash they generate in their own home, Anne Coakley with the Department of Natural Resources says there’s really no restriction on what people are allowed to dump. She says any garbage a household generates can be buried now
That can include everything from batteries, to oil filters to pesticides. Coakley says the Department gets about 150 complaints a year from people complaining about their neighbors dumping or burying trash.
The trouble with this from an environmental standpoint is that it can pollute groundwater. Ed Huck with the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities says that’s an issue for his members since almost 90 percent of local governments get their water from groundwater. Huck says many of the wells that service cities are outside the borders of the city.
The state law that makes it legal to dump or bury household trash has only been on the books since the mid 1990s. Before then, the DNR says all trash dumping was almost largely unregulated, and unmanaged garbage dumps were a lot more common.