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When I select the garbage dump from the building menu, there's an overlay that shows the different levels of pollution in my city, but I'm not sure how far away from that I can place the dump and still have it be effective.

The dump itself generates some pollution, so just placing it in the middle of the city where the overlay is red to begin with sounds like a bad idea.

How do I determine the best spot for the garbage dump in Tropico 4?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I did some research in my game, and it seems that the garbage dump removes garbage evenly throughout the entire blue area covered by the dump.

You can figure this out by comparing pollution vs coverage area vs predicted pollution.

First note my city's pollution, and the newly constructed garbage dump circled in green. Image of pollution and dump

Now see the dump's coverage: Dump coverage image

Now finally if you compare predicted pollution, you can see that the area covered by the dump gets its garbage reduced pretty much uniformly throughout the area. If the effectiveness of the dump fell off with distance, then around the edges of the coverage there would be almost no noticable effect, however you see a very stark difference between the areas just inside the coverage versus those outside. Predicted Pollution Image

So it would seem the best strategy would be to put the dump as far out as possible, while still overlapping the worst parts of your city. By counting the squares it looks like it has an effective radius of about 35.

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As Tim says, the garbage dump covers a great area of your island, marked in the map as a blue spot, so I prefer to put outisde the city to avoid the build polution.

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How far outside can it be, though? That seems to be Anna's concern. –  Matthew Read Dec 5 '12 at 3:54
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