Illegal Dumping a Continuous Problem in Local Watersheds

A recurring problem in the Euclid Creek is with illegal dumping, either on land or in storm drains that lead to the creek. This year alone, I’ve received six calls from residents about black, oily substances coming out of pipe outfalls entering Euclid Creek or Lake Erie; apartment dwellers calling about trash dumping in streamside wooded areas behind their buildings; and the most egregious incident happened during our Day in the Life of Euclid Creek event on July 16 with a cooking oil incident. At our first stop of the day at Acacia Reservation in Lyndhurst, we observed a small amount of a yellow substance entering Euclid Creek from a culvert under Cedar Road coming from an upstream location in the City of Beachwood (first photo in slideshow).

Finding the perpetrators of illegal dumping is a challenge. Most times when you see signs of dumping, the source is long gone as it was washed away in a rain event, which is why our discovery was so unbelievable. As time passed, the amount of yellow substance increased and when we put our monitoring equipment in the water, an oily substance covered it and smelled like cooking oil. We took photos of the substance and immediately called the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to report the incident. Within two hours, NEORSD had traced the discharge to a local restaurant’s cooking oil trash receptacle that was leaking into a nearby storm drain, entering Euclid Creek. Within another hour, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency installed booms in the creek to capture the oil from going farther downstream. This story is truly rewarding—not only did we quickly identify, report and find the source of the problem, but agency partners were able to get it cleaned up quickly, so as to not cause more harm to our aquatic organisms living in the creek. The business has taken responsibility and will pay for the cleanup costs, so this story has a happy ending.

If you suspect an illegal dumping incident either in a waterway or see evidence of a spill around a storm drain, read more about identifying illegal dumping and find out who to call if you see something concerning by clicking on this brochure - Illegal Dumping - Identifying and Taking Action.

Blog Author: Claire Posius, Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator

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