Illegal dumping out of control

Donny McKenzie and Roxanne Lawrie are fed up with watching people illegally dump waste into the sandhills opposite their home in Davenport.
Donny McKenzie and Roxanne Lawrie are fed up with watching people illegally dump waste into the sandhills opposite their home in Davenport.

Donny McKenzie and Roxanne Lawrie live across the road from a dump.

They don't reside on Footner Road across from Port Augusta Resource Recovery Centre, they live in Davenport by a large illegal dumping site on the eastern end of Yorkey's Crossing.

In what should be relatively untouched scrub land is a five kilometre-long dumping field of debris, which has stretched into the sandhills.

"I just feel disgraced in the way the place looks. I grew up in this place, walking around here chasing rabbits and chasing kangaroos. Now you have a look around there's rubbish everywhere," Mr McKenzie said.

"It's no good for the animals and it just hurts seeing all sorts of people, all different races, chucking their rubbish and stuff around here."

In direct juxtaposition to the Spencer Gulf lies a sea of household items such as couches, washing machines, mattresses, bedding, clothing, televisions and general bagged waste.

Most alarming however is the number of used needles strewn throughout the mounds of garbage.

"Sitting at home we see cars driving in and out with trailers full of rubbish and greens and just chucking it around the place," Mr McKenzie said.

"We saw a lady out here burning stuff with her kid. It's dry enough out here that one day it will just start a big bush fire."

While the illegal dumping in the area isn't a new problem, Mr McKenzie said it has been exasperated by high waste disposal fees.

A small trailer or ute will cost anywhere from $70-$90 to empty at the Port Augusta waste transfer station.

Port Augusta Council CEO John Banks said while Council are aware of the problem there is little they can do about the cost associated with dumping.

"Council doesn't own the waste transfer station, it's a contracted service. So we are bound somewhat by the charges that we incur," Mr Banks said.

"People will make comparisons between waste dumping cost between Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Pirie which is fair to make, but each of those councils are currently operating under different contracts and different ownership arrangements.

"Now we are trying to work as part of the Upper Spencer Gulf to see if there is an ability to get some synergies to scale so we can reduce the overall waste cost to all three councils and improve the business opportunities that might exist in waste management in the Upper Spencer Gulf."

The area subject to illegal dumping is owned by the Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).

However Mr Banks said it is an issue for all levels of government to come together on.

"DPTI have actually taken a survey of the area and have obtained cost estimates for cleaning the area up. That is forming part of their discussions in respect to the municipal funding for Davenport community," he said.

"I also understand that it's not a cheap exercise and will require considerable effort and resources in order to clean the area.

"Getting that area cleaned up of rubbish and waste is pretty much fundamental. I would expect there would be some definitive action in the near future."

While Mr Mckenzie and Ms Lawrie await a clean up they have urged all illegal dumpers to respect the land and respect mother nature.

Those with unwanted items can avoid paying hefty dumping fees by donating furniture, clothes and bedding to charities in Port Augusta - some of which even off a collection service.