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Village Council— West Nile spraying nixed

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Yellow Springs will not be sprayed with insecticide this summer in response to the presence of West Nile Virus-infected mosquitos, unless the health department determines the village is in a state of emergency. Rather, mosquito control will involve working with villagers to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and the use of larvicide to kill the insect larvae.

“Spraying kills mosquitos only if it hits them, and it also kills other insects,” Vickie Hennessy of Green Environmental Coalition, or GEC, said at Village Council’s March 18 meeting. Because the insecticide is linked to various cancers and asthma, “It’s better not to use it unless there’s a state of emergency.”

At the meeting, Council unanimously passed a resolution that approves entering into a contract with the Greene County Combined Health District for mosquito monitoring and larvicide application, but not insecticide spraying, in Yellow Springs. However, the health department does have the option of spraying in the case of emergency.

The agreement modifies last year’s contract with the health department, which allowed for spraying. Because monitoring revealed mosquitos with a positive West Nile virus test, the department sprayed a neighborhood south of town last summer. The department allowed villagers to opt out of the spraying, and several did so, according to a memo to Council from Village Manager Laura Curliss. Opting out meant that the health department stopped spraying a few houses before the house that opted out, then resumed spraying after passing the house.

According to Karen Wintrow, so many villagers had already contacted her to say they would opt out of spraying that, “it would have been a patchwork of spraying. It wouldn’t have been worth it.”
The GEC had urged Council to pass on insecticide. According to a GEC report to Council, the insecticide, Anvil 2+2, “is an indiscriminant pesticide that also kills beneficial insects such as pollinators and natural mosquito predators. It is a known neurotoxin that has been linked to human cancer as well as respiratory and dermatological problems.”

Also, according to the report, while there are 175 different kinds of mosquitos in the U.S., only a few types in this area are vectors for the disease. And while West Nile virus can be a very serious disease, less than 1 percent of those bitten by an infected mosquito will develop severe illness, according to the Center for Disease Control. The vast majority, or 80 percent, of those bitten will develop no symptoms, and about 20 percent may have mild flu-like symptoms for several days.
Rather than spraying insecticide, a more effective and environmentally friendly approach is to remove potential breeding areas and use larvicide where necessary. According to the GEC, the larvicide, Bt, kills mosquitos in the larva stage but does not harm wildlife, humans or the environment.

According to Hennessy, she is working with Antioch College professor of biomedical science Savitha Krishna on a local campaign to help villagers eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Antioch College students may also be enlisted in the effort, she said.

In general, villagers should remove any area in their yards that has standing or slow-moving water, including cans, buckets, birdbaths, flower pots, clogged gutters, old tires or holes in trees. They are also urged to monitor ponds and water sources for signs of mosquito larvae, and to treat home ponds with Mosquito Dunks, which is available at local garden stores. Villagers are also encouraged to use insect repellents and wear long sleeves and pants to prevent getting bites.
Paul Abendroth encouraged Council members to learn more about why most communities choose to use the insecticide.

“If spraying is useful in some communities, you should be aware of under what conditions,” he said.

In other Council business:
• Council voted unanimously to contract management of the Gaunt Park pool to Dayton Pool Management.

• Council heard from Curliss and engineer John Eastman of LJB Engineering regarding initial efforts to determine costs of connecting pipeline to Springfield should the Village opt to purchase water from Springfield rather than use its own plant.

At issue is the Village’s 50-year-old water plant, which has been judged unable to provide local water into the future without costly upgrades. Last year Council began a discussion on whether the Village should build a new plant, upgrade its current plant, or purchase water from Springfield.
“With a plant 50 years old,  something has to be done,” Eastman said. “The question is what’s best for the community.”

Council has initiated studies to provide more information, beginning, Eastman said, with an LJB study to determine the costs of connecting to Springfield water. Curliss has encouraged Council to make a decision before summer, as grant deadlines for outside funding will loom at that time.

At the meeting, Council also considered the issue of water softening, which the current plant does not provide, although Springfield water is softened with a lime process. More than 60 percent of villagers own water softeners, according to Curliss, referring to a 2012 Yellow Springs News survey.

“Do you want softening or not?” Curliss asked Council.

More information is needed on potential softening techniques, she said, and a small plant such as that in Yellow Springs would not be large enough to use the lime softening technique considered least harmful to the environment. The most environmentally friendly technique available would be an ion exchange, according to Eastman.

Several villagers raised concerns about getting water from Springfield. Dimi Reber questioned the quality of the Springfield well field, and said that while the Village might benefit from cost-sharing if water is purchased there, “What about the sharing of decision making?”

• Council began a discussion on concerns around security/surveillance camera policy with UD professor Richard Saphire and attorney Ellis Jacobs. Jacobs, Hempfling and Rick Walkey will meet to consider Village policy.

• Council unanimously approved an ordinance for the refinancing of Bryan Center that could result in a savings of about $50,000 for the Village, according to Curliss.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution that allows the Village to enter into a contract with Arbor Care to trim trees around electrical lines in the north part of the village. This is the last section to be trimmed in a village-wide effort to trim trees around lines to lessen power outages, and the strategy seems to be working, Curliss said.

• Council will meet next on Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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