“Water Tower Cleanup Attracts Volunteers, Demonstrates Community Resolve and Cooperation”
Thanks to a neatly organized team of community organizers, landowners, government leaders, and community members of all sorts and ages who donated their time on Saturday, August 13, the abused and trashy section of lands marking the southwest edge of Alamosa will see a significant portion of the unsightly dump piles accumulated over decades of neglect cleared out by the sweat and hard work of this small army of volunteers.
The cleanup effort was initiated as part of a USDA Rural Utilities Solid Waste Management Grant to the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council to address random dumping, waste transfer, and other problems in Alamosa and Saguache counties, with the area chosen as a highly visible place to demonstrate what can be accomplished with community resolve and all parties cooperating.
Billed as the “Adams State” Water Tower Trash Cleanup, the mix of volunteers and experienced equipment operators led by the Ecosystem’s Project Coordinator Kristina Crowder managed to gather up and fill three roll-offs with 7.5 tons of all types of discarded material destined for final disposal at the Regional Landfill west of Monte Vista.
Scattered over some 70 acres extending from the elementary school to the water tower on south Craft, trash included glass, plastics, metal, car parts, construction waste, paper, clothing, styrofoam, wood, rugs, couches, furniture, mattresses and just about any other unwanted item you can think of.
A total of 84 tires were also rounded up and hauled off to the nearby Ace In Your Pocket baling yards free of charge with disposal status recorded by Alamosa County’s Lynnea Rappold, SLV’s Environmental Health Director. A week before the cleanup John Manesiotis and Kyle Williams of WSB eRecyclers scouted the site and picked up 900 pounds of electronics valued at 50 cents per pound and processed at no charge.
About 25 persons in all participated, although more would have been appreciated for the extreme size and challenges of the area. Adding youthful energy to the group were Alamosa High School freshman Inez Herrera, Ortega Middle School seventh grader Damian Orozco, and Boy Scout William Krebs. Organizers were delighted to see youth representation at the cleanup in order for them to see first-hand the mess created by uncontrolled disposal behavior, and the educational imperative of leaving a clean and uncluttered environment for future generations.
Ecosystem Director Christine Canaly and Project Developer John Stump thanked the group for their participation, and the roles each person played in making the cleanup a success. The cleanup team also welcomed Ecosystem board members Beth Kinney and Joel Kaufman.
Della Vieira, Alamosa County Health Department Director, expressed safety concerns, particularly in the event any needles were uncovered in the trash. Canaly also thanked the Sheriff’s office for assigning a Deputy to the event.
None of this work could have been done without backhoe equipment and operator time donated to the project, and special recognition was given to Albert Griego of the County Road & Bridge Department, landowner Troy Duran of Dell’s Insurance, and landowner, rancher, and businessman LeRoy Martinez. Also pitching in from Alamosa County was Commissioner Helen Sigmond, and Charlie Griego represented the residents of his ward and the City of Alamosa.
Recognition also followed for Steve and Lisa Atencio; Brian Underwood, whose tent skills proved indispensable; David Topolewski, Conejos District Forest Service; and citizens Margie Clemmer, Gwendolyn Bauer, Lorraine Garcia, Paul Patterson and Dodie Day.
Roll-offs were provided by Alamosa Public Works Department Director, Pat Steenburg, using a “free day” for tipping fees at the landfill. Trinity Lutheran Church supplied table and chairs. Other suppliers making this possible at no cost included WSB eRecyclers; ASU Facilities; Alamosa Parks and Recreation; SLV Public Health; Mondragon’s Portable Toilets; Domino’s Pizza; City Market; and Safeway.
The area will continue to be monitored for dumping activity, and landowner Martinez plans to install signage and erect barriers to keep dumpers out. Residents near the area need to stay vigilant and report any suspicious illegal dumping activity to the Alamosa County Sheriff’s office. Look for vehicle descriptions and license plates. This is a public health risk that all citizens need to be concerned about. Illegal dumping attracts vermin that carry diseases and subject nearby neighborhoods to a greater risk of contact. USDA is an equal opportunity employer.
Before and after the Clean-up.
Volunteers load the front loader. with assorted garbage.
Damian Orozco & Inez Herrera represented the youth demographic.
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