Effort Designed to Help Clean Up Area Roadways

Silver City -- In an effort to help clean up local roadways, the Southwest Solid Waste Authority (SWSWA) will begin charging people $5 who show up at the landfill or the SWSWA Tri-City transfer station with an uncovered load. The fee takes effect January 1, and until then landfill staff will be educating users about the new fee, which is already being used by other landfill operators around the state.

Dora Gonzales, SWSWA business operations officer, lauded the move by the SWSWA board of directors, saying, "This is a very important step toward cleaning up our streets and roadways, which helps create a safe driving experience and a more favorable impression of Silver City and the surrounding area. It's an important contribution to quality of life for all of us." As part of this initiative, tarps are available for purchase at the landfill.

Gonzales surveyed other landfill operations throughout the state and reviewed all state laws to help develop the covered load initiative. "Small fines for uncovered loads are used throughout the state to reduce the amount of litter and garbage along New Mexico roadsides," she said. "We're taking time now to educate local landfill users about the change, so that all loads coming to the landfill are properly covered and all contents secured, helping ensure that garbage isn't flying out and covering our roadways."

Fees collected will be used by SWSWA to offset costs associated with litter control, Gonzales added, such as wages for workers who are responsible for keeping the landfill and surrounding roadways clean and litter-free. 

Both Silver City Police and the Grant County Sherriff's Department already have the authority to cite landfill users who travel with uncovered loads, said Gonzales, based on New Mexico law which states: "No vehicle shall be driven or moved on any highway unless the vehicle is so constructed, loaded, secured or covered as to prevent any of its load from dropping, sifting, leaking or otherwise escaping ... " 

If someone does receive a citation and shows it to landfill staff, they will not be charged the additional $5, said Gonzales.

The Southwest Solid Waste Authority is a quasi-governmental entity, governed by a board of directors comprised of representatives from each municipality in Grant County. SWSWA manages the landfill at 318 S. Ridge Road in Silver City, as well as the Tri-City transfer station in North Hurley, transfer stations in Gila, Mimbres and Hachita, and unmanned stations in Red Rock and Mule Creek. 

For more information about the covered load requirements, contact SWSWA at (575) 597-8050 or 597-8051. The landfill is open Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4 pm for large loads, and 8 am to 4:30 pm for small, household loads. The landfill is also open Saturdays from 8 am to 3 pm for large loads, and 8 am to 3:30 pm for small loads.

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