MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) — Thursday, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced a targeted effort to crack down on the city’s litter problem. Stimpson is up for re-election next month and admits his administration hasn’t solved the trashy issue, despite spending $1 million every year to pick up what people carelessly toss out.
“If you ride around and see litter, then you haven’t really achieved the goal that anyone really wants,” said Stimpson.
Stimpson says one big component that was missing was a point person coordinating all the various efforts. The city’s new chief resiliency officer Casi Callaway is now tasked with coordinating and finding solutions.
“The only real way we’re going to stop it, solve it, fix it, address it for real forever, is if we stop stepping over it and say somebody else needs to clean that up. So that’s the biggest chunk of all of this work and all of these partners and so many more. This is how we’re going to do it,” said Callaway.
Stimpson says the city will double the number of people who pick up litter and has already purchased five utility vehicles so crews can zip around faster. The city also plans to add three more enforcement officers to help catch polluters and to improve cooperation with community groups that are already picking up litter, which ultimately winds up in our waterways. Stimpson says last year crews on litter boats and the 12 litter traps in the Three Mile Creek and Dog River watershed collected a staggering 67,000 pounds of litter.
“People don’t understand the fact that stormwater doesn’t get treated, it doesn’t go to a center, it doesn’t go someplace that’s going to filter it out. So anything you throw in the ground is going to become part of that stormwater system and that’s running directly to the Bay,” said Ellie Mallon with Osprey Initiative “So really, our biggest point is no matter how much we’re pulling out continuously, if people continue to litter, it’s never going to stop.”
Public education is another key part of the city’s plan but is perhaps the most challenging as it requires changing the culture of littering.