The Desert is Not a Trash Can- Don’t Dump Your Paint

5 gallon paint spill in desert

By Nolan P. Smith

Staff Reporter

(Victorville)—The beautiful landscape known as the High Desert is full of wildlife, fauna, and more; it is what makes our community shine. Unfortunately, we also find something else in our desert- paint. Dumped, and discarded paint that creates not only an eyesore for those around, but can also prove dangerous. With so many programs in place to dispose of unwanted paint, the question has to be: why are people still dumping in the desert?

“We regularly find buckets of paint that have been illegally dumped,” said Dana Armstrong, Environmental Programs Manager for the City of Victorville. “We find the buckets and cans of paint on dirt roads, in empty lots, and behind businesses. Because we usually find 5 gallon buckets, we believe a lot of the illegal dumping is coming from contractors.”

Though it may seem to be a easy and quick fix to getting rid of unwanted paint cans and buckets, it is illegal with real consequences. California Vehicle Code Section 23112.7 (Illegal Dumping: Impoundment of Vehicle) includes a provision that the vehicle of illegal dumpers can be impounded. In addition, CA Penal Code Section 374.8. provides that those who dump hazardous waste illegally can be imprisoned for one to three years, depending on the circumstances as well as fines of up to $10,000.  The CA Health and Safety Code allows fines of up to $25,000 in civil penalties for improper disposal of hazardous materials.

white paint spill orange buckets

Some may think that this is a victimless crime- but the damage paint dumping does begs to differ, as it can range from harming our environment and wildlife to the drinking water we enjoy on a daily basis, as our water supply for all of the Victor Valley communities comes from wells that pull water from the underground aquifers. “Anything we dump on the ground has the possibility of seeping down through the soil and eventually making its way to our water supply,” said Armstrong. “Illegally dumped paint is a threat to our water supply.  It is also a potential hazard to wildlife, family pets, and children who may find it.”

Dumping paint illegally is not the only answer, as Armstrong offered a few different options for disposing paint in the High Desert- legal, safe and free options. One option being the PaintCare Program, which is free to businesses, contractors, and residents. This program provides free pain drop-off locations at participating local retailers. “In the Victor Valley, the following paint retailers will accept old paint and other architectural coatings,” said Armstrong. “Participants should call the store before attempting to drop off materials to verify store hours and get details on how many gallons of paint the store can accept at one time.”

PaintCare Program participants:

11938 Hesperia Rd
Hesperia, CA 92345
(760) 949-4941

Orchard Supply Hardware
16824 Main St
Hesperia, CA 92345
(760) 947-1742

12475 Mariposa Ave
Victorville, CA 92395
(760) 245-2442

Mills True Value
3936 Phelan Rd
Phelan, CA 92371
(760) 868-3335

For more information on the PaintCare Program, go to their website at, or call them at (855) 724-6809.

But PaintCare is only one option, as utilizing the local Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center (HHWCC) is another resource available to residents, with HHWCC’s in Apple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia and Victorville. Any San Bernardino County resident can use any of these centers. The HHWCCs are limited to residents and residential materials, however, so they cannot accept paint from businesses, contractors, or non-profit groups.  Following is a list of the local HHWCCs in the Victor Valley:

13450 Nomwaket Rd.
between Powhatan & Ottowa
Saturday 10 – 2


City Of Barstow Corporation Yard
900 South Avenue ‘H’
Barstow, CA
Saturday 9 – 2


Hesperia Fire Station
17443 Lemon Street
Hesperia, CA
Tuesday & Thursday 9 – 1
Saturday 9 – 3

(800) 645-9228


Loves Lane, off of Desert Knolls Drive

(Behind the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds)
Victorville, CA
Wednesday & Sunday 9 – 4


For more information, on the HHWCCs, residents can call their local jurisdiction, or San Bernardino County Fire Department, Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program at 909-382-5401 or 1-800-OILY-CAT (1-800-645-9228).   Website:

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