Illegal dump site in Contra Costa County.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has directed county staff to explore new strategies for addressing the impacts of illegal dumping, including rapid pickup by garbage haulers, increased enforcement and advanced camera systems to help identify suspects.

A total of 56 strategies have been identified for the cleanup and prevention of illegal dumping, some of which deal with education about and enforcement of existing laws to deter such behavior, as part of an interdepartmental “think tank” assigned to tackle the issue.

One strategy with broad support involves working with franchise solid waste disposal firms with government contracts to ensure they have adequate funding to quickly clean up dump sites after they have been identified.

That would free up county staff to focus on dump sites where there are no franchise garbage haulers operating, but it would also increase the solid waste disposal rates for ratepayers countywide.

Officials are also looking at installing camera networks in illegal dumping hot spots, which could be outfitted with facial recognition software and automated license plate readers that could help identify suspects and repeat offenders for enforcement followup.

A pilot program for that technology would cost around $50,000.

A spreadsheet with a few details about the strategy has been uploaded to the county website at

Supervisor John Gioia asked about the idea of simply directing county staff to move forward with the strategies, rather than explore them.

“Why can’t we just direct it. … Is there a reason we can’t direct rather than explore?” Gioia asked John Kopchik, the director of Conservation and Development.

Kopchik said that it’s not yet clear that the county has the legal authority to pursue every aspect of the plan at this time, and more research is required before such a directive can be issued.

The think tank also involved representatives from 10 cities in the county. They identified a number of trends seen in cities countywide, including that a significant portion of illegal dumping happening in their jurisdictions is business-related.

Garbage haulers hired to dispose of solid waste and unlicensed contractors disposing of construction debris are thought to be major contributors in some areas.

“I just want to compliment the staff,” Supervisor Diane Burgis said. “There’s been a lot of really good communication and strategizing on how to do this.”