A dump site on private property off County Road 41 south of Mancos has neighbors concerned, and the new property owner plans to clean it up.
The situation got the attention of officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Montezuma County.
Discarded materials, including a vehicle, have been disposed in a ravine that feeds into Weber Creek. The waste site is in the 6000 block of Road 41 and is visible from the road.
Nearby resident Elizabeth Scully and others are concerned that water quality might be affected by the debris.
“It’s a hazard and should be cleaned up. The next time there is a flood, it will wash it into Weber Creek,” she said. Weber Creek is a tributary to the Mancos River.
Unpermitted landfills or waste disposal sites on private land violate the Montezuma County land use code, said planning director Don Haley. The property with the dump site does not have a permit for a landfill or waste disposal site, he said.
To qualify for a permit, landfills must be evaluated through the county planning process, comply with the land use code and CDPHE regulations, meet appropriate design standards, and be approved by the county and state, Haley said.
Dump sites on private land may also violate the Significant Adverse Impacts threshold standards for development if they “pertain to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Montezuma County,” according to the land use code.
Because the waste is being dumped in a ravine that at times transports water, it would also be subject to Water Quality Control Act regulations of the CDPHE.
The Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of CDPHE responded to complaints about the site.
In an email to Scully, CDPHE Environmental Protection Specialist John O’Rourke reported he viewed the problem from the road earlier in the year but couldn’t contact the owner. He revisited the location Nov. 22 and was able to contact the new owner.
“He is aware of the waste dumped on the property and intends to clean it up and stop further waste disposal at the site,” O’Rourke stated. “The state will work with the new owner to see that the issue is mitigated. Because of the time of year, it may be difficult, based on wet soil or snow conditions, to get a dumpster set for using an excavator or other type of loader for cleaning up and removing from the site to take to the landfill. But, I think that the material should be removed by sometime in the first half of 2023.”
The solid waste statute and regulations [Section 30-20-113(b)] regulate the disposal of solid waste, stated Laura Dixon, communications manager for CDPHE Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division, in an email to The Journal.
The Solid Waste Sites and Facilities Act, states that disposal of solid waste at a location other than a site designated for such use by a county or municipality is prohibited unless the person is disposing of their own waste on their own property. The disposal must be in accordance with a CDPHE-approved Engineering Design and Operations Plan.
Regulations Pertaining to Solid Waste Sites and Facilities state that no person shall operate a facility for solid waste disposal at any site without first obtaining a certificate of designation from the governing body having jurisdiction.
Since local jurisdictions share solid waste enforcement authority, they can file an injunction to enforce the solid waste statute and regulations, Dixon said.