The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is the latest target of Richmond County Mosquito Control.
The governing board was given a letter citing an environmental health violation for standing water at the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Gardens site. What were once raised, brick fountains and a cascading, stone waterfall were collecting green and slimy rain water.
According to a letter dated Wednesday to the Board of Regents, an inspection this week discovered the water features were not operating, holding stagnant water and breeding mosquitoes.
“Every time it rains, they’re going to keep filling up,” said Fred Koehle, the operations manager for mosquito control.
The state transferred the property to the Board of Regents last year after state funding cuts forced the hall of fame to close in 2007. Maintenance of the park has been shared at different times by the city, volunteer groups and most recently, Georgia Regents University.
Because the Board of Regents are based in Atlanta, the county’s mosquito control considered the group an “absent owner.”
Board of Regents spokesman John Millsaps said while the board is the official owner of all its properties, including the old golf hall of fame site, the institutions, in this case Georgia Regents, are tasked with managing them.
“Prior to receiving notice of a violation from Richmond County Mosquito Control, we were not aware of standing water issues on the property. However, we are committed to working with the city to correct any concerns,” the university said in a statement.
On Thursday, mosquito control technicians released mosquitofish into the water to eat mosquito larvae and prevent the insects from hatching. The agency began treating abandoned swimming pools in July using mosquitofish lifted from Phinizy Swamp by scientists from the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy.
A woman who takes morning walks on the Savannah River levee adjacent to the property alerted Koehle to the standing water.
Mosquitoes breeding at the old golf and gardens site were likely a nuisance at Riverwalk and the nearby downtown area, Koehle said. Mosquitoes can reach a one- to three-mile radius of their breeding grounds, he said.
Improvements made since the property was transferred to the University System of Georgia include regular grass mowing, weed-eating, overgrown shrubbery removal, patching holes in fences and installing lighting, the university statement said.