New tool to combat illegal dumping

By Keith Strange

July 17, 2013

DOBSON — Within the next couple of weeks, Surry County will have a new tool to combat illegal dumping.

During its meeting Monday night, the county’s board of commissioners unanimously voted to fund the purchase of a handful of hunting-type motion-activated cameras to try to catch people who dump their refuse on the side of the road.

County Planner Kim Bates, acting on an earlier request from the board, said he had received bids on some more advanced equipment that would stream video online, but they were a bit more expensive than he thought.

“At the request of the county manager, we looked at options for purchasing solar-powered web-based monitoring equipment to be placed at illegal dump sites,” he told the board.

Bates said his office received three quotes that ranged from between $2,800 to $3,100 per camera, and includes a monthly charge for the online video access.

“And those cameras are powered by a large solar panel that is both easy to steal and hard to hide,” he told the board.

After a bit of discussion, the board suggested the county planner purchase a few hunting cameras, a cheaper, albeit less reliable option.

“It will be easier to hide,” Bates offered.

Following a bit of discussion, the board authorized Bates to purchase two hunting cameras at a cost of around $207 each. The cameras will record both still images and video and will be reviewed regularly.

Tuesday morning, Bates said the county has a significant problem with illegal dumping.

“There are certainly chronic areas where this is a significant problem,” he said, noting his office has received numerous complaints from landowners near the illegal dumping sites. “There are some areas that seem to have more of a problem than others, and we’re trying to do what we can to combat the issue.”

Those caught illegally dumping on county roadsides face a citation that runs $25 per day until it is cleaned up by the person who discarded the items.

“We don’t charge that daily charge if the person pays the ticket and cleans it up,” Bates said. “We try to work with them as informally as we can, and most people are cooperative when they discover we’ve found their names on some of the trash they dump.”

The cameras will offer an additional resource that could result in less litter on county roads, the planner said.

“There are a couple of sites right now where we’re going to mount the cameras and monitor them,” he said. “From all accounts I’ve heard, this should be a good tool for us.”

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929.