Residents in the rural parts of St. Martin Parish will soon have to pay a monthly fee for trash services. Currently, paying for garbage pickup is not mandatory. But come May, it will be.
Illegal burning and dumping of garbage is a lingering problem in St. Martin Parish. And soon, residents in the rural parts will have to discard their trash like everyone else—in their own bins. Parish President Guy Cormier says it's only fair that everyone pays.
"We get calls from businesses that when they show up in the morning, their dumpsters are full of garbage," said Cormier.
The fee will be about $16 a month, $18 for lower St. Martin Parish.
The parish is hoping the fee will keep the trash out of the air and off other people's property.
"We're just trying to get a better handle on where our waste stream is going," said Cormier. "And at 50 cents a day, we feel it's a fair deal for residents."
Another reason why the trash ordinance is so important is people often dump near waterways. And Bayou Teche is just one of the places where the trash ends up.
Although one man's trash is another man's treasure, Blake Couvillion, of Cajuns for Bayou Teche, lives along the bayou and says he regularly picks up household items, discarded along the banks. And it's not always pretty.
"Picking up stuff on the bayou, I pick up dirty diapers, beers cans, newspapers, its horrendous stuff that we pick up," said Couvillion. "Then the bags start deteriorating and then it's all over the bayou."
And for those who may shrug at the thought of paying, from what he's found, Couvillion isn't convinced it's about the money.
"To be honest with you, one household bag of beer cans that probably amounts to $40 or $50 will pay for three months of trash service," said Couvillion.
The waste fee will include once-a-week trash pickup, as well as once-a-month recycling pick up.