In El Salvador and the rest of Central America, dealing with garbage is a major environmental problem, as this 2000 article describes:
Today’s garbage "treatment" in almost all of Central America’s cities and towns can be compared to sweeping up garbage at home, then hiding it under the bed when no one is looking, as though this resolved the problem. Increasingly rapid and disorganized urban expansion, overcrowding, industrial growth and changing consumption patterns mean that each of us constantly produces more garbage that must be "swept up."
Throwing this garbage "away" may seem the fastest, easiest way to get rid of it, but that only piles it up somewhere else, and spreads the contamination in the process. Dumping garbage in vacant fields or ravines or alongside roads and highways contaminates the air with toxic gases, foul odors and ash, and forms focal points for diseases carried by flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches and rats. Toxic substances filter into underground water, while surface water is contaminated when rain carries the garbage into rivers and lakes and leaves it littered along coastlines.
In El Salvador, a law has been passed which requires municipalities to close their open air dumps and send garbage to sanitary landfills. (Today the environment ministry announced that it believed that 87% of municipalities were promptly coming into compliance with that law).
One of the most contaminated open air dumps has been located outside Santa Ana. The images of the dump at this link show the dump where 219 tons of garbage arrived each day. The dump has operated in that location for almost 40 years.
Now Santa Ana is establishing a new dump, but inhabitants of the surrounding region are strongly protesting. They are demanding that the environment ministry take action to halt the new dump because of fear that it will bring illness and contaminate the sources of water serving 11 communities of more than 7000 persons. Residents of the communities protested before the environment ministry last week, asserting as well that the new landfill was being constructed without citizen input and without any type of environmental impact study.
The problem of dealing with solid waste and landfills is a challenging one for El Salvador. With a high population density, El Salvador generates a lot of garbage and almost any place you locate a dump is likely to be close to some community.
For a different view of issues with landfills in Central America, check out the award-winning documentary "Recycled Life" about the municipal dump in Guatemala City and currently showing on HBO in the US and available for purchase from the website of the film.