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With Spring now in full swing and the arrival of warmer weather, there's been an increase in the number of complaints tied to the illegal disposal of trash. The Tompkins County Department of Recycling and Materials Management is reminding residents that illegal dumping is against the law, with violators liable to face fines, jail time, or both.

"Those caught illegally disposing of their trash may face fines of between $50 and $500 and/or jail time of up to 15 days…and that's just for the first offense," said Paul Cowles, Tompkins County's Solid Waste Enforcement Officer. "In addition, they could be sentenced to community service, and are also liable for the cost of proper disposal."

Illegally dumped trash may contain hazardous material, which poses a threat to the public, livestock and the environment. It can also be costly to prosecute and clean up.

If you observe the illegal disposal of trash, or find a dump site, report it to the Department of Recycling and Materials Management at (607) 273-6632. Often times, there is identifying information contained within the discarded material that can lead to the person or persons responsible.

Contributing to instances of debris and litter along roadways and on private property are those residents who transport garbage, yard waste or recyclables without a tarp or other type of cover. Uncovered loads are also a violation of New York State law, and fines can be as high as $1,000 or more.

"New York State Conservation officers routinely monitor the Recycling and Solid Waste Center," said Cowles. "You may be ticketed upon entering the facility with an uncovered load, and the County is in violation of State law when we accept these loads."

The law pertaining to uncovered loads applies to anyone who lives or transports material into or within Tompkins County.