County dumping problems get worse for residents

Lawton_It may feel like we're just hitting the peak of summer, but it seems people in Lawton have already started their fall cleaning.  Comanche County residents say people are driving out just past the Lawton city limits to dump trash like mattresses, couches and old car parts. The problem is, most of the time it is on someone else's property.

Now county commissioners are getting involved because they say even though it's happening past city limits, it's the same as someone throwing their trash on your front lawn.

So, 7 News investigated the problem. And we found that once we got past the city limits, we couldn't drive farther than a few miles without seeing a pile of trash dumped on the side of the road.  "People in the county are very irate about this, and upset, and they should be," said Comanche County Commissioner Ron Kirby.

One of the most aggravating things to county residents is the fact that people are dumping trash on their property when the landfill is just a few miles down the road.  "The reason I think why most people don't want to take it to the dump is they want to avoid the fees,"  Kirby said. "The fees are minimal."

In fact, it is free for city residents to drop off anything at the landfill.  And it's only $17.25 for non-residents to drop off up to two thousand pounds, an entire ton, of trash.  But, if you throw your trash out in the county, the commissioners say they will be watching for you.  "If we catch somebody we firmly plan to make an example out of them so that we can put people on notice that this is a very serious violation and not worth your time," Kirby said.

And even if they don't catch you red-handed, Kirby says that's doesn't mean you got away with it.  "People that dump trash out in the county anonymously, we have various means to backtrack and find out where that garbage and trash came from," he said.

But, he says, it shouldn't have had to come to this.  He says dumping your trash in the county -- often on private property -- is simply disrespectful.  "Obviously it is very disturbing to the farmers, and I don't blame them,"  Kirby said.  "It's just like nobody would want dumped in their front yard, back yard or porch and we take it to be the same thing."

The county commissioners say trash is also being dumped in our creeks and rivers, which means this trash could actually be harmful to our drinking water.  Old car parts dumped in our creeks can send oil into the water table.  And large furniture like couches and mattresses can back up the water flow, causing flooding problems and may even take out bridges.

While the county is spending an increasing amount of time and money cleaning up discarded trash, they don't have the authority to come on to someone's property and clear the trash unless they call saying there is a problem.