Trustees approve increase in spending to combat West Nile

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

Trustees approved, at Tuesday’s meeting, a spending increase to control mosquitoes and combat the spread of West Nile Virus this year.

According to a memo to trustees from town staff, the 2017 budget includes $13,000 for a Colorado Mosquito Control’s (CMC) plan to combat the pests. CMC has performed mosquito control operations for the Town of Berthoud for the past six years. CMC also provides services to nearby communities including Johnstown, Loveland, Fort Collins, Windsor and Greeley.

Broox Boze, Northern Colorado operations manager for Colorado Mosquito Control, presented trustees with three different options for service, ranging in price from $9,330 to $45,250.

Option No. 1 continues at the current level of service for the least amount of money: $9,330. Option No. 2 extends the boundary of the treatment area three-quarters of a mile and includes the newer subdivisions to the north and northwest of downtown for a cost of $22,600. Option No. 3 basically would expand the service area by 1.5 miles at a cost of $45,250.

CMC recommended option No. 2, which was ultimately what the trustees approved at Tuesday’s meeting. That option is an increase of $9,600 for mosquito control programs from what was previously approved for 2017. The three-year contract includes an annual 2.5 percent increase that will be applied in 2018 and 2019 as well.

Since 2011, CMC has developed its program into one of the foremost environmentally sensitive and technologically advanced programs in the United States, the company claims. Integrated mosquito management (IMM) includes surveillance of what type of mosquitoes are present in the environment, physical control and reduction, larval control, public education, and disease monitoring.

“The Town of Berthoud’s IMM Program, as operated by CMC, is truly a state-of-the-art, world class program, providing effective control of nuisance mosquitoes and reducing the risk of West Nile Virus,” reads the memo to trustees from CMC.

Their program is focused on monitoring the habitat and controlling the mosquito population with larvicide. Over the past six years, CMC has identified mosquito larval habitats within the town limits where they will monitor and inspect on a weekly or monthly basis throughout the season. Larvicide operations are performed May through mid-September as needed and are dependent on environmental conditions and mosquito populations. However, first their technicians look for a way to reduce larvae by reducing or eliminating the favorable growing habitat if at all possible.

“Water management and source reduction; including clearing clogged ditches, hand digging of channels, and working with property owners to mitigate these sites will be implemented when applicable,” states the memo from CMC.

CMC mainly utilizes two types of larvicide in the program: Vectobac and Vectolex. Vectobac is an extremely low-toxicity and environmentally gentle insecticide that will only affect mosquitoes and certain black fly larvae, according to CMC’s report. Vectolex is similar but has a longer-lasting effect.

When the level of infected mosquitoes reaches a certain threshold, fogging would be an additional option. CMC provides the applications from truck-mounted spray systems only at the request of the town administration for an additional cost of $85 per linear mile.

West Nile Virus was first detected in Colorado in 2002, and Larimer County has been one of the hardest hit in the state. Larimer County is consistently one of the highest counties in the country in terms of West Nile Virus cases. One of the reasons, according to Boze, is because of the diverse population of mosquito species. Larimer County reported 32 cases in 2016, but only two of those were in Berthoud.

However, according to Boze, nearly half of the mosquitoes found in Berthoud last year had the potential to transmit the disease.

“It is a persistent disease that reoccurs once established and is not something that is likely to go away any time in the near future,” Boze told trustees. “We can control it, but we cannot eliminate it.”

The best way to stay safe is for people to take responsibility for themselves; use mosquito repellent and avoid being outside during peak activity times in the early morning and evenings.

Trustee Brian Laak said during discussion that the town needed to focus on properly educating Berthoud residents about the program and what they can do to protect themselves.

Town Administrator Mike Hart said Slate Communications is responsible for disseminating information to the public, but CMC will collaborate with the town on getting information out to residents.

Trustee Jeff Hindman motioned for the board to approve option No. 3, saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

“I’d rather see us invest our money up front and avoid a situation later,” Hindman said.

Laak supported that option, too.

“I hate to roll the dice on someone getting West Nile Virus,” Laak said, adding “we might as well get ahead of this now.”

But there was some pushback from other trustees about spending the additional money for a program that may or may not be more effective than the current level.

Trustee William Karspeck said he agreed with Hindman and Laak in that they should throw everything they have at the issue, but he supported the lesser option No. 2 as a more cost-effective option.

Mayor Steve Mulvhill told the trustees he hadn’t seen enough conclusive information that supports going beyond option No. 2 would yield better results.

“If there was a way we could guarantee that we could eliminate this thing or protect everybody, I’m absolutely for that,” Mulvhill said, adding “no matter what we do, we’re taking our best shot.”

Mulvhill amended the motion to approve option No. 2 over option No. 3. That motion was ultimately seconded and passed unanimously by those present. Mayor Pro Tem Chris Buckridge was absent from the meeting.