This year the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Illegal Dump Survey Program completed surveying every county since its inception in 2005.
The ambitious undertaking identified 6,487 illegal dump sites in the state containing an estimated 19,000 tons of trash.
The survey identified 114 illegal dumps in Indiana County with an estimated 680 tons of trash. The survey notes that there are probably more illegal dumps on private land than on public land that have gone unnoticed.
In Indiana County, 54 percent of the illegal dumps were near waterways and 14 percent of the dumps had trash directly in the water.
Tires, appliances and other bulky items were the trash most commonly found in the dumps, the survey found.
Recyclable material, including steel, aluminum and plastic were usually found at the illegal sites, too.
According to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, illegal dumps are not only unsightly but also attract disease-spreading rodents and mosquitoes.
West Nile virus, carried by mosquitoes, has been a particular concern for environmental officials.
The illegal dumps also pollute water supplies and lower property values.
According to Keep America Beautiful, the comprehensive survey is a tool that can help communities raise public awareness of illegal dumping, generate funds for cleanup, develop solid waste and recycling programs and otherwise guide public policy.
A detailed breakdown of the illegal dump survey is at www.keeppabeautful.org.
— Randy Wells