Mosquito-control agency asking to branch out
Voters in much of Mesa County will be asked on the November ballot whether to invite the Grand River Mosquito Control District in to battle the buzz.
The mosquito-control agency is asking voters to nearly double its current boundaries to include all of Grand Junction, as well as other territory.
For Sarah Brethauer, that day can’t come soon enough.
Brethauer lives in north Grand Junction, about three miles from the Grand River District’s border, on land that would be included in the district should the expansion question pass.
Were the property in the district now, the larvae-laden standing water from an overflowing irrigation ditch “would be classified as an emergency,” Brethauer said she was told. “The water was just thick” with soon-to-be flying bloodsuckers, she said.
Brethauer called Grand River for advice and while officials can do little officially, they directed her to consumer items that could help.
Brethauer’s situation in north Grand Junction illustrates the problems that mosquito-control agencies encounter, Grand River District manager Zane McCallister said.
While the breeding grounds are well outside the district, the problems are not, he said.
Surprisingly, mosquitoes have a 16-mile range, meaning the district’s best efforts could be rendered meaningless within its own boundaries when the bugs take to the air in search of blood meals.
“There are plenty of mosquitoes born just outside our district’s borders,” he said, noting that the greater the scope of the district, the greater its chances of controlling the mosquito population.
The district now encompasses 75 square miles along the Colorado River through Mesa County and the ballot question would extend the boundary north as far as the Government Highline Canal.
Mesa County officials and residents, particularly in the Paradise Hills area, urged the Grand River District to ask residents for the boundary expansion, Much of the interest in expanding the Grand River District stems from residents’ fears of the West Nile virus, McCallister said.
Two Montrose County residents have died of complications related to West Nile virus infections and with each bit of news about West Nile infections, “the drumbeat does get louder,” he said.
The district is interested in expanding to the point that it’s ponying up for the costs of the election, estimated at $82,000, McCallister said, noting that residents who live in the district won’t be allowed to vote in the election.
The Grand River Mosquito Control District combats mosquitoes by making sure they never become fully developed, McCallister said.
Instead of spraying or fogging to kill adults, Grand River kills larvae in the water, feeding them a bacillus that the larvae eagerly ingest. The bacillus, however, punctures their intestinal walls, killing them long before they have a chance to take in the blood meal that allows them to reproduce and sets humans to itching.
The district, in fact, played no role in an aerial-spraying program a few years ago by the Mesa County Health Department, McCallister said.
Most of the district’s mosquito-control activities pass unnoticed when they place their larvicide, he said.
If voters approve expansion of the district, homeowners within the new district boundaries will see a property tax increase of about $12 for each $100,000 of assessed valuation on their property. For most residential property owners, that means their taxes will rise by less than $20 a year, McCallister said.
The district will conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in the West Middle School gymnasium, 123 W. Orchard Ave., in which residents can discuss the proposed expansion. Information also is available on the district website, http://www.grmcd.net.