Help us help you during monsoon season: Don't toss litter on freeways

Clearing Pump Station Trash Buildup

Clearing Pump Station Trash Buildup

By David Woodfill / ADOT Communications

It's reminiscent of the "Star Wars" trash compacter on the Death Star.

Arizona Department of Transportation workers lower themselves onto layers upon layers of trash washed into a freeway pump station. They have to clean this out to keep the system in top operating condition, something that's especially important with monsoon season approaching.

Sometimes crews can suck out the trash using large hoses. But they often have to roll up their sleeves and scoop foam cups, plastic this and that and heaven knows what else into trash bags.

The work comes with risks for workers. There's no monster like on the Death Star (did you know it's called a dianoga?), but there are occasionally snakes, rodents and other creepy crawlies like giant bullfrogs.

You want our pump stations in peak operating condition during storms. Each pump (stations usually have several) is powerful enough to drain your swimming pool in just three minutes.

Multiply that by 59, which is the number of pump stations in the Valley. Along with the many drainage grates along freeways, these pump stations clear a tremendous amount of water. That's why freeway can be drivable even when a storm has left local streets flooded.

But cups and cans and everything else that winds up on a freeway can hinder pump stations and other drainage systems by fouling grates and intakes when it rains.

So think twice the next time you may think about chucking that disposable coffee cup or hamburger wrapper out the window. It's inconsiderate and illegal to begin with. And you're potentially making it more difficult for us to keep freeways clear of water during storms.

You also can take action if you see someone tossing litter on a highway. Report it to the ADOT Litter Hotline at 877.3LITTER or and the vehicle's owner will get a letter stating that someone was reported tossing trash from the vehicle. He or she also will get a free litter bag.

You'll get the peace of mind of knowing you've done your part to keep ADOT crews safe from dianogas.