Posted: Nov 16, 2012 9:11 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2012 9:46 PM
EDINBURG - A commissioner in Hidalgo County says he can't understand why people would rather dump trash illegally than use the county's free collection centers.
Hidalgo County Precinct 1 Commissioner Joel Quintanilla said he has a staff of seven spreading the word about the free waste transfer stations. Still, people dump illegally, even a few yards from a waste station.
Hidalgo County resident Jaime Leal is one of the residents who use the transfer station to dispose of his refuse. On Saturdays some 400 people line up outside the Sunset Transfer Station to dispose of their trash.
"My grandpa taught me if you're going to throw your trash you bring it here don't throw it in the street," Leal said.
Still, many of his neighbors don't think about the effect illegal dumping has on the land.
"I don't think they know about the effect they have on the land in Weslaco," Leal said.
Many residents dump trash in canals and drainage ditches instead of the transfer stations, Quintanilla said.
"The transfer station is right there," Quintanilla said pointing to the nearby station.
"We're less that half a block away and people feel compelled to dump their trash, tires, sofas, mattresses ... all sorts of trash (in the canal) and we clean up this area daily," Quintanilla said.
Illegal dumping is a major problem in Hidalgo County, Quintanilla said.
He took a CHANNEL 5 NEWS crew to an illegal dump site in Mercedes.
"Why illegally dump? It's just going to cost you more eventually. ... If we don't find solutions to these problems it always goes back to the taxpayer ... the taxpayers always pays for this," Quintanilla said.
Quintanilla said 200,000 taxpayers in his precinct pay $6 million a year to clean illegal dump sites.
"Just to send our people and one of our trucks ... fuel the manpower ... it's a minimum of $500 up to $10,000," he said.
Quintanilla said county officials are considering privatizing trash pick up in unincorporated areas to curb the problem.
"They'll take their tires once a month ... they'll pick up the brush once a month. There shouldn't be any reason why anybody would want to illegally dump," he said.
"If we make a decision ... to privatize, these transfer stations would close down. Is that the only solution to this problem? At this point, unless our constituents do their part, that would be the sole solution," Quintanilla said.
Residents don't have to pay to use the transfer stations, Quintanilla said.
"I care because it's our city," Leal said.
Quintanilla said he will meet with consultants next week to find out how new surveillance cameras connected to the Internet could help county workers catch illegal dumpers.