County tackles mosquito problem

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The house on Scotts Way sits in a nice neighborhood amid well-maintained houses and lawns. But a peek at the pool in the backyard reveals green brackish water that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"There goes froggy," Fred Koehle said as a pair of long legs disappeared into a fog of green algae on the bottom of the pool. He said larvacide tablets he threw into the pool must be working because there aren't any budding mosquitoes visible.

Houses such as this one, vacant since a foreclosure a couple of years ago, present a problem when their pools are not maintained, Mr. Koehle said. As foreclosures rise, the problem could only get worse.

Mr. Koehle and colleagues in Mosquito Control with the Richmond County Health Department are enforcing the county's mosquito ordinance, which states businesses and homeowners cannot allow stagnant water to collect on their property.

Mosquito Control has cited Days Inn and Suites, 3037 Washington Road, for not maintaining its pool, Mr. Koehle said. The agency is already tracking 75-85 abandoned or improperly maintained pools across the county, he said.

It can be expensive. Every 120 days the Scotts Way pool takes several larvacide tablets at $3 a piece.

Sarasota County, Fla., is taking a different approach. The county, also beset by abandoned pools, drops Gambusia minnows into the stagnant water, said Dr. Lyman Roberts, the director of mosquito control.

"They are voracious eaters of mosquito larvae," he said. "It's a relatively cheap way to make sure that these pools don't become mosquito nurseries."

Richmond County is trying to raise some of the fish on its own but lacks a facility to store and maintain them, Mr. Koehle said.

"It would be a big help and in the long run it would end up being cheaper than the chemicals and the time to keep going out there," he said.

Sarasota had used the fish off and on for year, Dr. Roberts said.

"It's not been a big issue until the economic downturn, which resulted in a lot of foreclosures and un-maintained pools," he said. "I would say right now, we're getting 10 or 15 calls a month at least for abandoned pools."

Richmond County's list is also growing, Mr. Koehle said. Most are called in by neighbors complaining of mosquitoes.

Pat Bradley, a Scotts Way resident, flagged down Mr. Koehle in the street to point out the dirty pool nearly two years ago. As Mr. Koehle left after the latest visit, she stopped him again.

"Thanks for taking care of us," she said.

"We'll do the best we can for you," he said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

HOW TO HELP

Eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes can help keep their numbers down. Richmond County Health Department Mosquito Control recommends getting rid of standing water in the yard by:

- Putting sand or cement in tree holes

- Cleaning out gutters regularly

- Keeping boats covered or overturned

- Stocking ponds with mosquito-eating fish

- Changing the water in the birdbath every few days

To report a mosquito problem or for more information, call Richmond County Mosquito Control at (706) 667-4241 or e-mail augmosq@dhr.state.ga.us

Comments (9) Add comment
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the kid
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the kid 03/14/09 - 05:53 am
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was told in volusia county

was told in volusia county fl. by a mr. brown that mosquitos did noy breed in pools. i don't understand where they got that clown from.was told by on of their inspectors that pools breed at times and pool was treated.

SCGAL53
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SCGAL53 03/14/09 - 08:54 am
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If the pool is not being used

If the pool is not being used why can't it be drained? Who is responsible if a child wanders onto the property, falls in and drowns?

Junket831
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Junket831 03/14/09 - 11:17 am
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If a house is vacant for that

If a house is vacant for that long a period of time there is one solution....public condemnation. Put the property on the public auction block and give it to the highest bidder. The next solution would be to FILL IN the pool. If the house isn't selling it is probably due to the eye sore of a unmaintained pool in the back yard. The County could put a lien on the property to recover the cost of filling it in. It is in the interest of the County and neighborhood to turn over this property to someone who will maintain it properly. The only way to do that is to either raise the property taxes on the abandoned property or force the sale.

heart_less
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heart_less 03/14/09 - 11:38 am
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I agree, just drain the pool.

I agree, just drain the pool.

WW1949
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WW1949 03/14/09 - 12:37 pm
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JUNKET, YOU CAN'T JUST RAISE

JUNKET, YOU CAN'T JUST RAISE THE TAXES ON ONE PIECE OF PROPERTY.
I would imagine the mortague company would be the ones to maintain the pool but it must be tied up in bankruptcy or it would have been sold by now. Scotts Way is a well sought after area,

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 03/14/09 - 03:38 pm
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Gambusia minnows are so easy

Gambusia minnows are so easy to breed. Why dosn't the city use the ponds on riverwatch to grow them. I typical female will have well over 200 babies a year. For $500 the city could have close to 2 million fish in one year. Not to metion the pools that they put them in will become breeding grounds for alot of Gambusia minnows.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/14/09 - 04:43 pm
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Is the water in pools

Is the water in pools oxygenated? How can the minnows survive in stagnant pool water? I wish it would work, there is a house that is occupied near mine that has an rain-filled algae-covered pool. I may have to call that number myself.

corgimom
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corgimom 03/14/09 - 05:00 pm
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If it's the house at 524

If it's the house at 524 Scotts Way, it went FSBO for $799,000 and now lists for $450,000. My guess is that something major is wrong with it- like it needs extensive work or there's a major defect in the title (tax liens, IRS liens, title problems, something like that, or a probate issue or divorce issue.) Probate issues can tie up a property for years, especially if heirs are fighting, because probate court moves so slowly. Baroness, minnows thrive in dirty ponds. There's enough surface oxygen to keep them going, and they will breed until they reach a natural balance.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/14/09 - 09:04 pm
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But do they thrive in dirty

But do they thrive in dirty POOLS? Is there enough surface oxygen for them there? I knew they did fine in ponds, but wasn't sure about POOLS. Do you mean pools?

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