Piles of rubbish including toilet paper and plastic packaging have been left scattered across regional South Australia over the holidays, prompting councils to initiate a region-wide response.

Key points:

  • Huge amounts of rubbish are dumped across regional South Australia over the holidays
  • A regional local government association says a strong response is needed
  • It’s calling on the community to report people doing the wrong thing

Peter Hunt, president of the Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association (MRLGA), said an increase in dumping was not unusual during peak tourist periods.

But he said the cost of the clean-up effort was leaving councils and ratepayers having to foot the bill for other people’s mess.

“It seems to happen in those areas where it’s unregulated … and it’s more along the tourist spots — riverfronts, lakes, the Coorong, the ocean — where people tend to congregate,” he said.

Mr Hunt said while the majority of people did the right thing and took their rubbish home, it was the disrespectful few that created problems, and sometimes included local residents.

“There’s no doubt locals see the opportunity and [contribute to the dumping],” he said.

Dumping over holiday periods is a regular occurrence in the region.(ABC News: Samantha Dawes)

Human and wildlife health at risk

National Parks and Wildlife Riverland and Murraylands manager Sonia Dominelli said the waste dumped throughout the state’s national parks could have a real impact on the environment.

She said it took away from the rangers’ day-to-day work, and items such as food scraps, general camping rubbish and toilet paper was having the biggest impact.

“Eventually that waste can get into our waterways and rivers, particularly here in the River Murray.”

Riverland councils have also been left to clean up destruction of local infrastructure, like this sign at Lake Bonney.(Supplied: Berri Barmera Council)

Regulation a reaction to rubbish

Mr Hunt, who is also the Mayor of Berri Barmera Council, said councils were looking at increased monitoring and introducing fines for dumping at tourist destinations such as at Lake Bonney.

“We’ll eventually have camping [by the lake] regulated as national parks do,” he said.

“They have the same issues, but they at least have the names of people that have been there and [can follow up] accordingly.”

He rejected suggestions that a lack of bins was leading to the dumping of waste.

“Most councils do put out extra bins during peak season,” he said.

“Even if you get the odd bin sitting there, people still throw rubbish alongside it.

“We need to penalise those [people] wherever we can, however we can and to the full extent.”

The LGA says it welcomes tourists but is disappointed communities are being used as dump sites.(Supplied: Jodie Louise)

The MRLGA is set to bring up the issue at its next meeting before forwarding a response to the state’s Local Government Association (LGA).

LGA acting chief executive Lisa Teburea said it was working to form a partnership with the State Government to identify practical solutions to the dumping.

“In the meantime, we ask all visitors to our beautiful regions to do the right thing and not leave their mess behind,” she said.