It is a stinking problem costing Bay of Plenty ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. And it is getting worse.
Fly-tipping, or the illegal dumping of rubbish, creates an eyesore and often a stench. It also raises the ire of almost everyone in the community
Every day councils throughout the Bay of Plenty receive reports from the community of trash being dumped in a public place. Once the report has been made, the time and costs begin to mount.
Western Bay District Council utilities manager Kelvin Hill said daily reports of dumped rubbish ranged from house lots of broken furniture, construction material, plastic rubbish bags and "anything in between".
"We have a contractor that removes the rubbish, but each report has to be assessed to determine the type and location of the dumped rubbish before removal," Hill said.
"Some locations, like steep gullies, require specialist equipment and trained staff to remove the material."
He estimated between $70,000 to $80,000 was spent each year cleaning up the muck.
"That is our estimated budget, but bigger clean-ups eat away at the budget very quickly – especially if specialised equipment is needed."
Hill said the Western Bay was seeing an increase in dumping of inorganic items in remote, difficult to reach places.
"The Western Bay has experienced significant growth over the last few years with an influx of population during seasonal activities. So the problem has steadily increased over time."
In Rotorua, Lakes Council infrastructure group manager Stavros Michael described illegal dumping as a community problem.
"People have to take responsibility for doing the right thing in disposing of the waste they generate," Michael said.
"We know that the majority of the community do the right thing and from experience, most illegally dumped rubbish is household waste that could and should be placed in wheelie bins, which are accessible at home to most of the district.
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"People go to great lengths to dump rubbish when there are a number of alternatives that could enable them to do the right thing."
Michael said the council also received daily reports of rubbish being dumped and it was often obscure locations that were targeted.
"During the 2018/19 financial year, we received 575 reports of illegal dumping and clean-up costs were over $70,000. The summer months, January to March, incurred nearly one-third of this cost.
"While the summer trends are not yet visible, we expect that the general patterns observed in the last few years will continue with an overall cost implication between $70,000 to $100,000."
Tauranga City Council described illegal dumping as a daily problem that was costly to ratepayers and time consuming for the council and contractor.
Since the beginning of September, 176 reports had been received, with 868 reports in the last 12 months at a cost of $30,000.
A spate of illegal dumping in Whakatāne has resulted in the district council putting out a plea to identify the people responsible.
Whakatāne District Council community regulation manager Graeme Lewer said fly-tippers dumped rubbish in the same place twice earlier this month.
"You could smell the mess before you could see the mess in the Awatapu Lagoon. Last week's dumping made it four times in the same spot in the past four to six weeks."
He said a contractor was used if the rubbish was in a hard to reach place otherwise community probation services were used.
"If we do use a contractor, it's about $300 each time."
Fly-tipping in the Kawerau District cost ratepayers $45,000 in the past financial year
Communications manager Tania Humberstone said it was usually council staff who picked up illegally dumped rubbish.
"This still has a cost, as it diverts staff from their usual responsibilities. Contractors are also used.
"If this rubbish had been disposed of properly, using the kerbside rubbish collection services or had been taken to the Kawerau Transfer Station, the cost would have only been $2500.
"For a small district, spending $45,000 on picking up rubbish that is illegally dumped is a big waste of resources."
Humberstone said if people had large amounts of rubbish at home, the starting point was to separate out the waste streams into green waste, recyclables, glass and general and inorganic waste, much of which could be taken to the transfer station.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council regulatory compliance manager Stephen Mellor said illegal dumping in waterways was also an issue.
"For the 2017/18 period, we received 49 notifications about household rubbish in waterways. For the 2018/19 period, this jumped to 88 notifications."
He said regional council staff collected the dumped household rubbish from the waterways as opposed to using a contractor.
"We spent $4393 on disposing household waste collected from waterways in 2018/2019. It's worth noting though that $1466 of that figure was in relation to one incident and $1065 to another one-off incident. This second example was for the removal of a large trailer of tyres collected by staff from the estuary in the Tanners Point area."
Mellor agreed the problem was getting worse, which was especially concerning as some people sourced their drinking water from streams or rivers.
"It is worth noting however that the rise in numbers could partly be attributed to better promotion of our Pollution Hotline."