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Taxpayers ask city agencies to clean up and prevent illegal dumping in the White River

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Taxpayers are calling on the city and its agencies to clean up the White River underneath the Washington Street bridge.

“It’s terrible,” Larry Duncan said.

Duncan said he called the Department of Natural Resources, which referred him to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies told him to call the mayor’s office.

“I called you instead,” he told CBS4.

The pile of trash is located underneath an overpass and near a well-known homeless camp. Duncan and his coworker Cody Walker believe those who are staying in the area are to blame for the illegal dumping.

“It’s upsetting,” Walker said.

Duncan and Walker said the pile of trash is the size of a big pickup truck and that it keeps getting bigger.

“I fish this river,” Duncan said. “It just keeps coming. They don’t stop.”

CBS4 saw bicycles, shopping carts and several tires in the water as of October.

“Being an outdoor enthusiast, it upsets me,” Walker explained.

CBS4 reached out to every agency possible to ask whose responsibility and jurisdiction that would be.

The Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, INDOT, Indianapolis’ Business and Neighborhood Services, the sheriff’s department, police department, Department of Public Works and Citizen’s Energy Group all replied. Most said it wasn’t up to them to clean up the river. Volunteer groups didn’t have any suggestions, either.

Finally, CBS4 emailed City-County Councilor, Jefferson Shreve. The trash is in his district. He forwarded some photos, asking for an explanation. He called the pile of trash an “eyesore” and a “concern.”

After following up several times with the city, DPW responded to CBS4’s inquiries on November 18th with the following message:

“Thank you for your patience as we work through this. We are currently getting price estimates from a vendor to determine the cost of removing the debris. We believe that there are several layers to this issue, including some level of responsibility for maintenance by both the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (as this is a navigable waterway) and by the adjacent property owner. We will continue to explore options for addressing this issue internally, as well as in discussion with these entities.”

IMPD added it was familiar with the homeless camp nearby. A spokesperson said officers would discuss ways to try and prevent more dumping in the future.

“It affects all of us. This is the city we live in. We’d like to keep it clean,” Walker said.

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