Winding through Webster County, the Des Moines River offers a scenic treat for canoers who can feast their eyes on the flora and fauna of the region.
All too often, however, natural splendor is buried under piles of rusting junk as area residents use the bank of the river as a dumping ground for defunct appliances.
''It's pathetic what you observe,'' said Clark Fletcher, an avid local canoer.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The remains of a window air conditioner and a grill sit along the west side of the Des Moines river a few miles south of Fort Dodge. This particular spot is apparently a popular dumping spot for the illegal disposal of appliances, the remains of several others litter the immediate vicinity along with a few tires and other debris.
Fletcher said he's seen piles of television sets along the river, particularly is areas where rural roads run parallel to the banks.
''The river is a really nice thing we have,'' Fletcher said. ''You hate to promote it when it's lined with junk.''
No doubt some river dumpers are motivated by avoiding the cost of disposing of trash at the regional landfill south of Fort Dodge. The North Central Iowa Regional Solid Waste Agency, which owns the landfill, charges $5 per cubic yard of waste, about a pick-up truck load.
Where to dispose of materials
The landfill will accept:
- Tires car without rim $2; with rim $3
- Electronics stereos,TV are OK to bring
- Florescent light bulbs all new ones manufactured today are eco-friendly, so the landfill will take them
- Paint with kitty litter to dry it up
The landfill will NOT accept:
- Leaves or grass
Where to dispose of other things:
Sears will take car batteries if you buy a new one, $4 per battery
Radio Shack will take back re-nickel cadmium rechargeable and NiCad (AA, cell phone batteries will be taken by Radio Shack)
Alkaline batteries don't have to be recycled because once they lose their charge, they become inert and are OK in a landfill. Wal-Mart will recycle tires and car batteries if you buy new ones at Wal-Mart. The charges are $1.50 per tire and $9 per battery
- Appliances -
Frank's Recycling, 2291 Landfill Drive, will take refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers (anything with Freon) for $15
D&L Recycling, 2120 S 11th St., anything with Freon, $20; all other appliances are $10 (including stoves, dishwashers, water heaters, etc)
- Each household in FD can bring one pickup load of trash to the landfill per year, free of charge. You need to have proof of residency by showing a driver's license. The landfill keeps track of who brings the loads in their database. All loads must be covered.
However, each household in Fort Dodge is allowed one pickup load of trash free per year.
The landfill accepts tires and small electronics such as television sets, according to scale operator Julie Alexander.
Larger appliances such as refrigerators, air conditioners and water heaters must be disposed of at one of Webster County's licensed recycling centers, which include Frank's Recycling, 2291 Gypsum Hollow Road, and D&L Recycling, 2120 S. 11th St.
At Frank's, workers typically deal with five to 15 large appliances a day, said manager Kris Summers.
''We demanufacture them to remove anything that's dangerous to the environment,'' Summers said.
Many people don't realize the effort involved in obtaining and maintaining the necessary licenses to operate an appliance recycling center, said Shannon Ely, co-owner of D&L Recycling.
For example, the center must have an engineer's assessment as to what it would cost to clean up the property should the center go out of business, Ely said. Also, a center must obtain a bond that would cover those costs, she said.
Hazardous materials must be stored in spill-proof containers and can only remain on the center's property for 280 days, according to Ely.
''We hire contractors to remove Freon from freezers and refrigerators,'' she said.
Last year, D&L took in 2,400 appliances - not including 1,100 taken in free of charge during the Fort Dodge's cleanup days.
Ely asks anyone who is thinking about bringing in an appliance to make sure it's cleaned up first.
''We've gotten freezers full of rotten food,'' she said. ''But the biggest deal is to keep appliances upright if possible. If anything is damaged it could cause exposure to hazardous materials.''
Several appliance dealers, including Ross' Appliance Center, 524 Central Ave., haul away old appliances upon delivery of a new replacement, said owner Deb Nemitz.
Contact Jesse Helling at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com