Want to litter? Fine, or just a letter - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Want to litter? Fine, or just a letter


















Bill McGinty | KHQ Local News

SPOKANE, Wash. - No one will argue that litter alongside Washington roads isn't an eyesore and potential hazard for wildlife. It's such a big problem that the state of Washington spends $4 million per year cleaning up the estimated 12 million pounds of litter alongside our roads.

But with budget crunches looming in Olympia as lawmakers try to close a $2.8 billion deficit, every dollar matters, right?

The Washington State Department of Ecology spent $141,672 from 2008 to 2009 to send 25,492 letters to people reminding them not to litter.  The recipients of the letters were identified by other motorists who phone the 1-866-litter-1 hotline and report that they spotted a someone littering. While these letters serve as a reminder, they have no revenue generating authority, meaning there is no fine or ticket attached: It is simply a reminder.

A recent survey of people who received these reminder letters found that 78 percent said they believe the program is effective and 92 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn't litter again, according to the Department of Ecology's web site.

Governor Gregoire's office said that for every $1 spent, the cost of removing litter drops by $3.

In 2008, the Washington State Patrol did ticket 3,916 people for littering statewide.  Those fines include infractions like roadside littering to illegal dumping.

The Department of Ecology estimates that in 2008, combined litter removal activities in Eastern Washington cleaned up more than 1 million pounds of litter in some 329 dumpsites, covering 10,928 miles of the state.

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