Almost two months after the city of McMinnville announced a problem with its mosquito spraying equipment there is still no solution in sight.
McMinnville officials were informed in early May the spraying equipment had failed. The estimated cost for replacement is $10,000. Upgrading, rather than replacing, is up for consideration.
“We are still investigating what to do,” said McMinnville Mayor Norman Rone. “I’m not comfortable with not doing anything. West Nile Virus is back. There have been reported cases in Nashville. We will do something.”
West Nile is a serious, life-altering, and even fatal disease. It is transmitted from mosquitos to humans and can, in extreme cases, cause inflammation of the brain and the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Rone says he had a discussion with Kevin Malloy, an environmentalist who worked for the United States Health Department and Health Services, about the situation here.
“We went over all the information and he agreed that spraying like we were doing with the burning oil method was useless,” Rone said. “We might kill some of them, but most just move to another location. He said there are more effective methods or sprays we could use.”
Malloy has traveled to natural disaster areas that are experiencing mosquito problems due to flooding and standing water. His job was to eradicate and begin procedures to control the problem.
Rone is trying to get Malloy to come to a city meeting and offer suggestions on methods that are more effective.
“I was very impressed with him,” said Rone. “I think he is willing to come here and speak with us. We just need to work everything out.”
Malloy confirmed what Public Works director Bill Brock told officials in May — the old method was not effective.
“What we do is basically useless,” Brock said at that time. “When we spray, we are actually running and moving (mosquitos) around.”
The department spends approximately $20,000 a year spraying, which does not include the cost for equipment replacement.
At that time, city administrator David Rutherford suggested the city look into the cost for aerial spraying to cover most of the community at one time and consider beginning an program to educate residents about how they can help prevent mosquitos.
Aerial spraying is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $75,000, but no exact figures have been received.
“We are still trying to get those numbers,” said Rutherford, when contacted Thursday. “As soon as they come in, they will be presented to the board for its consideration.”
Public Works has pellets that can be placed in standing water to prevent the emergence of adult mosquitos. To report standing water and request pellets, call 473-1219.