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City battling against illegal dumping
• 12 tons collected at 26 locations in March
debris dumped
Despite all the signage warning against illegal dumping, piles of debris continue to show up on Richland Avenue near Magic Lane and at other locations throughout the city. The crime is costing precious city resources and funding. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The illegal dumping of debris continues to be a problem for the city of Ceres which requires a great deal of staff time and city expense.

In his March report to the Ceres City Council, Public Works Director Jeremy Damas noted that the city and Bonzi Ceres Disposal cleaned up 12 tons of debris and waste from 26 locations scattered throughout Ceres.

“Unfortunately that number is increasing,” said Damas. “Did the pandemic cause the increase? I don’t know.”

Much of what is being dumped are larger bulky items such as discarded and broken down furniture, broken TVs, and appliances.

“We have an incredible amount of dumping of brush piles,” said Damas.

He suspects a lot of material is coming in from outside the city limits since all single-family residential customers can take full advantage of the city’s bulky item collection and leaf and limb pickup program. That program allows for the bulky items picked up once per month by Bertolloti Ceres Disposal or tree trimmings picked up by the city. Single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes, and mobile home parks may arrange for the collection of bulky items (mattresses, sofa, furniture, appliances, etc.) for free. Bulky item collection is limited to two times per property per calendar year. The service is not offered for businesses or apartment complexes. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Bertolotti Disposal at 537-1500.

Leaves and limbs (tree trimmings) generated from single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes may be deposited at curbside for collection. Limbs must be four feet or less in length, or six inches or less in diameter. Leaf and limb piles are collected on the next business day following the recycling day. No businesses or apartment complexes.

A lot of material is being dumped in the stealth of the night in the industrial areas or along quieter residential areas, such as along Faith Home Road or on Richland Avenue north of Magic Lane. He said it’s not uncommon to see a pile of palm tree trimmings in the industrial area where only redwoods are grown. He said such piles can be as large as six feet tall, six feet wide and 20 feet long.

Damas said the city is exploring surveillance camera systems in trouble locations.

“Honestly, we have better luck with residents,” he said. “If we get the message out to the residents and they see people they take pictures because they’re pretty frustrated with it to. When they leave their house they see a big old pile. It’s frustrating for everybody.”

Not only does illegal dumping cost the taxpayers but so does vandalism. Damas reported that sprinklers are routinely damaged at the city parks. In March the city repaired a vandalized sprinkler in Independence Park, which is also where two homeless camps were cleared out. Marie Neel Park experienced the most cases of sprinkler vandalism at nine cases. Seven sprinklers at Roeding Heights Park had been vandalized. This is on top of the routine maintenance that must be done to park sprinkler heads.

“My parks guys spend an incredible amount of time repairing and replacing (sprinklers). What happens is the sprinkler systems at the parks turn on in the middle of the night. If these kids are out doing whatever, walking down the sidewalk and they see a sprinkler up, they just walk along and kick that thing. When they kick it, they break it.”

Staff time is also being expended on disinfecting all park playgrounds once a week since the COVID-19 pandemic has occurred. The crew applies water and sanitizer through a trailer-mounted pressure washer. That process takes about an hour per 15 playgrounds per week.

Damas said Ceres and other cities are seeing a significant increase in the consumption of water in households since more people are at home during the state enacted a stay-in-place order.

“This compounds itself all over the place.”

Other activities of the Public Works Department in March included:

• Cleaning 34,730 feet of sewer line and inspecting  2,911 feet of sewer line by closed-circuit TV  camera;

• Treated and disposed of 76.54 million gallons of wastewater, averaging 2.47 million gallons per day;

• Completed 116 work orders on city vehicles, including police cars, street sweeper and fire engine;

• Repaired 46 problems with right-of-way irrigation areas;

• Planted trees in the rights-of-way within the Eastgate area;

• Issued 13 warnings about residents leaving lawn clippings in the gutters or street;

• Fixed seven trip hazards on city sidewalks;

• Cleaned 36 storm drain lift stations and 62,772 feet of storm drain line;

• Responded to three customer requests to look into sewer problems and took care of another 20 sewer problems;

• Tested 12 water meters for accuracy and serviced 49 meters and their radios;

• Issued 287 courtesy notices for excess water consumption;

• Issued 391 fines for excess water target consumption;

• Issued two warnings for outdoor water wasting.

warning sign
A sign on Richland Avenue warns people not to dump debris in the area at the risk of a stiff penalty.