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The Gila River Cleanup Project. Funded by a grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The Gila River Cleanup Project. History of the Project

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the gila river cleanup project

The Gila River Cleanup Project

Funded by a grant from

the United States Environmental Protection Agency

and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality

slide2

The Gila River Cleanup Project

  • History of the Project
  • In the spring of 2005, Neil Karnes, the Graham County Health Department contacted us asking for assistance with a landowner who had a big problem. The landowner, Jay Colvin, a local farmer whose family has lived in the valley for many decades, had an ongoing illegal dumping problem.

Project Area

Pr

slide3

The Gila River Cleanup Project

The dumping may have been initiated by people who did not want to pay for dumping at the landfill, or who just felt the Colvin farm was a more convenient place to dump their trash.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

The dumping may also have been encouraged by the sight of portions of the cabled –together vehicles that were placed on the river bank to control erosion.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

  • The Gila Watershed Partnership agreed with Graham County to assist the landowner by writing an ADEQ Water Quality Improvement Grant. The grant application included funding for the cleanup and funds for an education and outreach campaign to reduce additional illegal dumping in the community.
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The Gila River Cleanup Project

Once the contract was signed, the work began in earnest. The tires were separated out for removal to the landfill. Any appliances that needed to have doors removed, or need special treatment at the landfill, were separated. A pile was made of the scrap metal that can be recycled.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

The first quarter of the clean up moved very fast, as they debris on the ground adjacent to the river could be removed with heavy equipment, and loaded on flat bed trucks or dumped into bins.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

As the project continued, all of the debris had to be removed by hand, which was very laborious. As the trash piles had been reduced, there was new debris underneath

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

There were a lot more tires than we originally thought. The landowner removed more than 1,500 tires. The large tires took the longest time. They had to be moved with large equipment

to a flat area, where the rims were removed manually.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

We asked ADEQ to allow us to create dirt berms next to the river along the road to hide the portions of the cabled-together vehicles. We wanted to do this, as occasionally the landowner found new dumping when he came back to the area in the morning. We felt that the sight of the vehicles was encouraging dumping.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

We didn’t even try to replicate the before pictures, and I think you will see why. There are simply no reference points left after the debris was removed.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

Because of the time period that has past, the difference in seasons, and the two high flows of the river since we started the grant, nothing even looks remotely the same.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

All you see is clean, dry level soil. These photos start with the first one at the west, working towards the east.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

An important component of the project was our education and outreach campaign. We completed a newspaper campaign, which ran in two flights, one in the middle of the grant – in spring of 2007, and one near the end – in spring of 2009.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

  • The outdoor board we placed ran from the spring of 2007 until spring of 2009. It featured Ron Green, the mayor of Safford, and Drew John, one of the Graham County Supervisors. It really helped the clean-up effort to have them publicly support the reduction of illegal dumping.
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The Gila River Cleanup Project

We included stuffers in the City of Safford utility bills in the fall of 2008, which was inserted by the City of Safford as an in-kind match for the grant.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

The landowner did a commendable job and should be congratulated. Mr. Colvin donated tens of thousands of dollars of both in cash and in-kind match in the form of his labor, fuel, and his equipment.

In addition, he had to fit all of the work in around his already-impossible farming operation schedule.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

We want to thank Mel Taylor, the local ADEQ representative, who was an enormous help in getting the project completed.

Mel is the debonair gentleman with the mustache and sunglasses on the left.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

Our thanks also go out to the City of Safford and Graham County who supplied in-kind match for the project.

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The Gila River Cleanup Project

And our thanks to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality