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Council Passes Resolution for Fecal Matter Clean Up

City to hire vendor for human waste removal and disposal from public and private properties.
February 21, 2024

District 7 Councilor Tammy FiebelkornDistrict 6 Councilor Nichole L Rogers

ALBUQUERQUE – The City Council unanimously approved a resolution for the Albuquerque City Administration to create and administer a program to collect and dispose of human feces found on both public and private property.

Before the enactment of the Council Resolution (R-24-3), residents and business owners were responsible for collecting and disposing of waste on their properties – including in or on adjacent sidewalks and alleys - leading to the potential of fecal matter being disposed of improperly. The resolution now places that responsibility with the City’s Environmental Health Department (EHD). The EHD will contract with vendor companies that specialize in collecting and disposing of hazardous material. The resolution creates a $100,000 appropriation from the City’s General Fund to pay for the costs of the measure.

“The presence of human feces in public spaces poses real health and water contamination risks to our community,” said Tammy Fiebelkorn, District 7 City Councilor. “There are at least 3,842 unhoused individuals in Albuquerque, yet the City only operates one 24-hour, seven-day, year-round public toilet. As long as there is a lack of restrooms available, this service is essential for the safety of our residents and visitors.”

Disposing of human bio-waste is not as simple as washing it into the City’s sewers and storm drains. Proper disposal must avoid polluting water sources, spreading disease, and should maximize the rate of decomposition. The National Library of Medicine found that enteroviruses, hepatitis A virus, rotaviruses, parvovirus-like viruses astroviruses, caliciviruses, adenoviruses and coronaviruses may be present in human fecal matter. In the last Calendar year (from Dec. 18, 2022-Dec. 18, 2023) the City’s 311 Center reported 399 calls to collect human feces.

“This resolution is in direct response to the many residents and business owners I hear from who are frustrated with the lack of help cleaning up human waste,” said the resolution’s co-sponsor and District 6 Councilor, Nichole L. Rogers. “In passing this resolution, the Council has prioritized the health and safety of our residents and visitors alike. This is one step in the right direction, next we need to be discussing how to build more public restrooms.”

“A cleaner, healthier Albuquerque is in everyone’s best interest,” says City of Albuquerque Chief Administrative Office, Dr. Samantha Sengel. “We will be setting up human bio waste disposal services, so this type of waste is properly removed for the safety of all who live, work, and play in our city, as well as our precious water resources.”

The Resolution (R-24-3) directs the City Administration to develop and administer a program that:
A. Engages with, and supervises a contractor specializing in removal and disposal of potential hazardous material;
B. Directs the contractor to clean up human feces on both public and private property;
C. Coordinates with 311 to create a mechanism through which residents can report human feces and the contractor can then be dispatched to the location; and
D. Tracks where human feces is found and the number of instances the contractor cleans up such waste.