Trash Collected at Laguna Clean Up

Illegal Dumping

You’ve got to admit, we live in a beautiful area! When I roam around the Russian River watershed, I am enamored by the view until some unsightly dumped material catches my eye. Many of us have seen items—like an old mattress, a rusted appliance, or trash bags along the side of a road. Dumping these household wastes (or other debris) in places outside of permitted disposal sites is unattractive and illegal.

Illegal dumping has been a longtime problem for property owners, cities, and counties because they have responsibility to properly dispose of materials illegally dumped on their property. Additionally, illegal dumping is a major environmental concern; as dumped items decompose, they leak pollutants into the environment. These pollutants tend to have unfavorable interaction with wildlife and can cause blockage in creeks.

Trash Collected at Laguna Clean Up

Trash collected at Laguna Clean Up
Photo credit: North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

Responsible Disposal

There are many local options that can help recycle and dispose of unwanted items. A few resources in Sonoma County are the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency’s website and Eco-Desk hotline, which is (707) 565-DESK (3375). Mendocino County residents can use Additionally, some waste management companies offer free pick up of household bulky goods that are too large to fit into a trash bin; please contact your waste management provider for details. These resources help connect the public with local assistance and provide methods to dispose of their waste responsibly.

Given the adverse environmental impacts, it is important that incidents of illegal dumping are reported in a timely manner. If you witness a person or persons dumping, or you discover an illegal waste site, please report it to the sheriff or to the police agency with jurisdiction in that area. Report as much of the following information as possible:

  • Violator’s name, address, and/or description
  • License plate number and/or vehicle description
  • Incident details (date, time, location, etc.)

You play a key role keeping the area we live in beautiful and healthy! Dispose of your waste properly, spread the word about helpful disposal resources, and report incidents of illegal waste disposal.

This article was authored by Nazareth Tesfai of the Sonoma County Water Agency, on behalf of RRWA. RRWA ( is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, fisheries restoration, and watershed enhancement.