With mosquito breeding season – and its associated risk of West Nile Virus, just around the corner, Mabry said he is unsure of how the county will be controlling mosquitoes. He is currently waiting to learn if and how new permitting regulations will affect local governments.
“Until the EPA comes down with a definitive program on this, everything is on hold,” Mabry told the commissioners.
A worst-case scenario could mean that every time the county decides to apply biological mosquito larvae killers a new permit must be issued, said Mabry, costing the county more time and money. (The county provides a granular form of biological bacteria that kills larvae to the Town of Ridgway, who then applies it to areas of standing water.)
Mabry said in a later interview that he is waiting to see if the EPA applies for a rehearing on April 9. If they don’t, he said, the EPA will have to come up with new regulations within seven days of that.
“Right now, we are just kind of in a holding pattern to wait and see what rules are coming out,” Mabry said, adding that the EPA rules could also affect the permitting system of the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“Those two entities have to get together to figure out how to handle permitting. This is all happening really fast and there is a lot of confusion out there.
“Hopefully they will exempt local governments from the permitting fees,” he said. “The biggest problem is we do have a West Nile problem here. There are not any alternatives for treating the mosquitoes. The other option is to spray insecticide, and environmentally that is a bad thing to do. That is our only alternative right now. My hope is they will come to their senses and meet at some middle ground instead of outlawing all applications. They have to recognize that this is a public health issue.”
The commissioners agreed on Monday to contact their lobbying agency, Colorado Counties Inc., to act on their behalf.