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Illegal Dumping Laws Not Being Enforced Along Tuolumne River As Trash Piles Up

MODESTO (CBS13) - It's a shocking and disgusting sight in Stanislaus County. An entire U-Haul of garbage was dumped into the Tuolumne River. To make matters worse, it seems like nobody knows who's in charge of enforcing illegal dumping laws in the area.

Trash is piling up along the Tuolumne River.

"We've let it get way too bad in this state its heartbreaking really. This is what our kids are going to have to live in when we all move on," says Modesto native and RoamLost founder David Downs, who's been working to clean the river for generations to come.

"At this location, we're close to about 24,000 pounds," says Downs, who has a two-year-old son. "He's my first boy. I'd like for him to come here with his kids one day. I just get a little emotional and passionate about it because we've been fighting hard."

Local community groups in the area are doing their part.

The city of Modesto told CBS13: "….the Dry Creek Trails Coalition and the 9 to 99 volunteer groups, in partnership with the City's blight abatement teams, spend a great deal of time cleaning these areas."

But community groups can't do it alone.

"Resources would be really nice. I definitely feel like we need to have more state involvement," said Downs.

We reached out to the City of Modesto, Stanislaus County, the Modesto Irrigation District, and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. None of them could tell us exactly who oversees clean-up and enforcement for this portion of the Tuolumne River.

We asked Stanislaus County district 4 supervisor Mani Grewal, why it's so hard to pin down who's in charge.

"You touched on exactly how I feel as well because there's so many jurisdictions that oversee that area. Some of its private property some of its county some of its city of Modesto fish and wildlife," said Grewal.

We asked Stanislaus County District 4 Supervisor Mani Grewal if that's what keeps the river from remaining clean and what the solution might be.

"In the near future, we're going to have to come up with (who) the first responder to that area is… or we create a partnership. I think everybody would go all hands-on deck. At that point, the finger-pointing stops," said  Grewal. "I'll talk to our public works director...and from there we will start the conversations. If we're going to have kids out there and utilizing this area we want it to be safe."

The Tuolumne River feeds into the Don Pedro Reservoir, which services the surrounding area. That's even more of a reason to keep the waterway as clean as possible.

Supervisor Grewal tells us you can call your county supervisor, or the city of Modesto and report trash pileups and they should send out a team to respond.

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