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Here's how Memphis plans to tackle illegal dumping

A new proposal would form a team whose only job is to address illegal dumping complaints.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With reports of illegal dumping on the rise, Memphis leaders are proposing new solutions to tackle the trash problem in the city, piling up along city streets or vacant properties.

A new proposal would form a team whose only job is to address illegal dumping complaints.

The issue is especially personal for community advocates, including Debra Lovelace in Frayser.

"Oh my goodness, it's terrible, I mean, it's really, really, really bad," Lovelace said about illegal dumping issues around her, which makes her blood boil.

"It's more widespread, it's in more areas, it's like people don't care," Lovelace added.

RELATED: The Cleanup Crew is coming to a Memphis neighborhood near you

That's why Lovelace takes pride in reporting problem spots but admitted even that is a hit or miss in actually cleaning up the issue.

"There's been an area used for dumping down the street, I know at least five years, constantly, over and over again and the city has picked it up from time to time but it comes right back," Lovelace said.

She isn't alone when it comes to alerting 311 about illegal dumping across Memphis.

To address the growing issue, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland proposed a dedicated response team of 17 new hires and new equipment.

"Illegal dumping has kind of just exploded and becoming a nuisance and a bigger issue for the city so not having that type of resource has been frustrating," City of Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht said.

The illegal dumping team would prioritize their efforts on the trash thrown and piling up city streets as well as abandoned properties.

Its members would allow the city's solid waste workers not to be pulled off curbside trash pickup routes to clean up illegal dumping.

"I think it's a big step financially from the city to address this issue that has a dramatic impact on so many citizens," Knecht added.

As for Lovelace, if the illegal dumping response team is approved by the Memphis City Council, she's hopeful but also in wait and see mode.

"If the people work the program diligently and what have you, and really buckle down it, it might work, you know, but I'm glad that they are going to do it, we need something to make it better," Lovelace said.

The city also cracks down with more than 100 covert cameras set up in undisclosed areas to catch illegal dumpers in the act. 

They're identified on video and that ID can be used to file either misdemeanor or felony charges.

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