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      Cameras watching for illegal dumping in Harlingen

      Harlingen resident Moses Castaneda has gotten used to the warnings a talking camera located on a light post just behind his yard, sends out.

      The high-tech camera warns, "you are illegally dumping, your picture is being taken."

      The camera overlooks a sewage drainage on the outskirts of Harlingen, which has evidently become a dumping ground for trash.

      Rene De La Garza, Harlingen Sanitation Supervisor said, "We TMve had to go to the extreme of getting some cameras to prevent this illegal dumping from happening."

      A total of eight, state-of-the-art cameras are strategically placed throughout the city, De La Garza said.

      They are heat and motion sensor, and can snap at least three pictures if they catch violators in the act.

      City officials are hoping the cameras will deter or even eliminate illegal dumping.

      "It's a nuisance. I mean, there's people out here that have got trash flying through their yard, and along the drainage," De La Garza said.

      "If we have a big flood, it prevents the water from flowing and getting out of here," De La Garza said.

      Castaeda said he's already seen a significant improvement, and he's glad, given the drainage ditch is directly behind his home.

      "It builds up and then other people start seeing that it's ok to start dumping stuff, so then before you know it, you've got the whole neighborhood coming to the area leaving trash that eventually is going to build up," Castaneda said.

      "It's probably not good for the environment either."

      Each camera cost the city about $6,000, but De La Garza said the city is already getting the return investment.

      At just one area, about 15 illegal dumpers have already been caught, and in other areas the problem has been completely eliminated.