The City of Houston has a new initiative to help combat illegal dumping that has taken place throughout the city.
The "One Clean Houston" initiative brings 11 new trash trucks that can handle larger dumped items, and 25 new security cameras to help catch illegal dumpers.
The city will use over $11 million in extra funding for equipment such as the security cameras and to hire extra officers. The city has gotten 5,000 complaints about illegal dumping over the past year.
Director of Waste Management Mark Wilfalk said that the initiative is already working.
"I’m getting phone calls and feedback from many residents throughout the city who are saying, ‘well, you know, I put it in a complaint, and you guys addressed it, I want to thank you,'" Wilfalk said.
The initiative has also cut the time in half for reported areas that need to be cleaned.
"So with that being said, I do want to also recognize the fact that I guess prior to my arrival, and prior to us really kind of buckling down and addressing this issue, our average wait time hovered around 45 plus days," Wilfalk said. "Happy to report today, that number is down to 20. But we still want to keep going further than that."
Last year, the Department of Justice launched an investigation about illegal dumping happening more often in Houston's predominantly Black and Latino communities. Turner says if the goal is to go after people who illegally dump, they're on the same page.
"The federal government is always welcome when they bring resources to help cities," he said. "But to come after the City of Houston, that's kind of short-sighted. We're trying to show the best way to approach it, and that's from a holistic point of view."
Turner hopes that keeping people accountable will serve as a ripple effect to future offenders.
"The goal is to stop people, educate them, prevent them from engaging in illegal dumping if they do, hold them accountable to educate them."
Councilmember Tarsha Jackson said that the practice of dumping is very common and shared her own experience.
"Just the other day, I was doing a tour with the chief deputy chief and broad daylight, we drove up on two men casually dumping in the middle of our neighborhood, of course, we pulled up on him and made him stop," Jackson said.
According to Mayor Turner, this happens everyday and the initiative aims to double the fine for illegal dumping from $2,000 to $4,000. He believes this initiative is a step in the right direction.
"Dealing with illegal dumping, it's running rampant and it has been that way for a number of years," Turner said. "This is one clean Houston holistic city."