NEW LONDON -- Spring cleaning can reduce the mess in garages and homes, but it can make a new mess on roads and ditches, especially on the routes to the sanitary landfill.
About half of the garbage loads that come to the Kandiyohi County landfill do not follow the simple rule of having garbage covered, according to Mary Fostervold, who checks and weighs each load that comes into the county landfill on U.S. Highway 71 north of Willmar.
Apparently, a $5 fee that's charged for uncovered loads isn't enough of a deterrent, Fostervold said.
Jeff Bredberg, Kandiyohi County director of environmental services, said uncovered loads can result in garbage blowing out of trucks and trailers. Besides the unsightly littering, it also creates the potential for accidents on roads.
Bredberg said he got a call recently from a New London Township officer who was concerned that uncovered loads were causing litter problems in the township ditches.
"We really shouldn't be seeing these things," Bredberg said. He said residents should be more conscientious about how they transport their garbage to the landfill.
The $5 fee for bringing uncovered garbage through the gates of the landfill is "an incentive for individuals to cover their load and to do the right thing," Bredberg said.
Some customers are creative in getting around it.
Fostervold said she's seen people drive to the landfill with their garbage uncovered.
They then stop at the landfill gates and pull a tarp over the load so they don't have to pay the $5 fee. "Some of them don't care," she said.
Commercial garbage haulers must -- and do -- have their garbage covered, said Fostervold. But she said there are a number of businesses that haul garbage to the landfill on a regular basis that would rather pay the $5 fee than pay an employee the time it takes to tie down a tarp over the load.
They don't understand the purpose of covering their garbage, she said.
Besides the $5 fee, Bredberg said littering is a misdemeanor.
Fostervold said she has received phone calls from people who have followed vehicles that had garbage spilling from their loads. When those vehicles come to the landfill, they're not only charged the $5 but told to go back and pick up the garbage they left on the road, or risk being turned in to the county Sheriff's Department.
Even garbage that is in bags should be covered so that the bags don't fly out, said Fostervold, who's had her share of discussions with unhappy customers.
Purchasing a special tarp to cover garbage going to the landfill isn't necessary. Bredberg said even a piece of old carpet will work, as long as the garbage is covered and secured.
The sanitary landfill is located at 15650 U.S. Hwy. 71 N.E. in rural New London. Summer hours are in effect, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.