Mat-Su Borough using app to tackle illegal trash problem
Cleaning up other people’s trash is a seemingly endless job for Erin Leaders.
“Oh, it stinks,” she said, digging through a frozen pile of garbage bags of Knik Goose Bay Road.
She’s the Mat-Su Borough’s new, full-time community cleanup and recycling coordinator. It’s a huge undertaking, considering the Valley is the size of West Virginia, with many dead-ends and seldom-traveled roads that create a prime place for illegal dumping.
“I got as far as Caswell at times and I like to plan it out so I can maximize my time,” Leaders explained.
Illegal dumping continues to be a major problem in the Mat-Su. Borough staff picked up 190 tons in fiscal year 2017; that’s up from 154 tons the year before.
Leaders said it’s everything from animal carcasses to building materials.
“Lumber, people tearing down animal houses,” Leaders listed off. “Bulky items, appliances, workout equipment.”
A new app is helping to improve cleanup efficiency, though. Internally, borough workers are using Problem Reporter to track areas notorious for trash.
“My goal when I get a report is to have it resolved as soon as possible, and if I can, by the end of the week. It doesn't always happen with the amount of ground you have to cover,” Leaders said.
The app lets people upload pictures and drop a pin to the exact location. It also tells users which spots have already been reported and are in the process of being cleaned up.
With digital monitoring, they can see which sites are being targeted over and over and put up game cameras to hopefully catch the culprits.
“I don't know who's doing it. That's half the problem because it's hard to do anything when you don't know who's putting it there,” Leaders said.
The app is only available for borough staff right now but they hope to unveil it for public use sometime this year.
For now, trash in Mat-Su Borough right-of-ways can be reported to Erin Leaders at the Central Landfill.
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