Trustees hear latest buzz on modern mosquito management

MEEKER | Meeker’s Board of Trustees met Tuesday for regular business and further discussion of a possible mosquito management plan.

This is the first year Meeker has not sprayed for mosquitoes “in forever,” according to Mayor Regas Halandras. Lanny Coulter, the town’s usual spraying contractor, declined to spray after concerns were brought forward regarding the efficacy of the method and potential harm to the White River ecosystem.

Steve Sheaffer, operations manager of Vector Disease Control International’s (VDCI) Rifle office, offered suggestions and answered the board’s questions about a comprehensive plan to treat two species of mosquitoes common in the area—Aedes and Culex. VDCI has contracts with several nearby towns and counties.

According to Sheaffer, Aedes mosquitoes hatch earlier in the year and thrive in marshy habitats.

Culex mosquitoes are the species that carry West Nile Virus.

“You start out with very few numbers in the spring and by August you’ll see them everywhere,” he said. With Culex mosquitoes, a one-and-done aerial spray approach is not effective. “To effectively treat mosquitoes that carry West Nile, you have to treat all season.”

The ballpark estimate to the year-around approach? $30,000 to $40,000. “Traps and surveillance are kind of the heart of the program, what mosquitos are out there and in what amounts,” Sheaffer said. Rio Blanco County’s Public Health Department currently has one mosquito trap near the river, and the Board of Trustees agreed to purchase two more to aid in studying Meeker’s mosquito population.

After research is completed, VDCI generally begins the control process with larvicide. BTI pellets, which contain a naturally-occurring bacteria that kills mosquitoes but is not harmful to the environment, are one option. Irrigating methods that reduce standing water (most mosquito species need 7-10 days to hatch) are also helpful in controlling mosquito populations.

If larvicide doesn’t work, VDCI moves on to ground fogging. They also have an aerial spraying division, but only as a last resort, and they do not spray near running bodies of water in most situations. “Generally it’s not big bodies of water that produce mosquitoes, it’s the marshes and smaller areas,” he said. “I don’t think you’d want to use us for aerial spraying.”

VDCI will look at aerial maps to address problem areas—standing water, flood plains, marshy areas, etc.—and come back to the board with a presentation in late September. Most of the target areas will be outside of city limits. One specific area of concern brought up was the tire pile on the west side of town.

“Tires are kind of the perfect source for container breeding, since they get imported and can be dumped, they can carry some really weird mosquitoes,” Sheaffer said.

In other business, the Board:

Approved previous minutes and accounts payable for June.

Approved a final settlement with Elam Construction for the 2018 Town of Meeker Paving Project.

Opened the only bid for the Meeker Water System Project Phase II Re-Bid. The bid, received from Gould Construction of Glenwood Springs, Colo., rang in at $1,332,592.56. Olsson Associates will review the bid and present their findings to the trustees at a later meeting. “I believe that’s way out of budget. It will be interesting,” said Town Manager Scott Meszaros.

Approved comprehensive changes to the town’s personnel policy.

Discussed the future of the Meeker Housing Authority.

Discussed the current contract with Better City, which expires July 31.