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New state regulations govern mosquito spraying

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Public Works Department is now conducting the city's mosquito control program under new Minnesota Pollution Control Agency regulations. The new regulations require the city to obtain a permit to discharge pesticides for mos...

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Public Works Department is now conducting the city's mosquito control program under new Minnesota Pollution Control Agency regulations.

The new regulations require the city to obtain a permit to discharge pesticides for mosquito control and to submit a pesticide discharge management plan, says Scott Ledeboer, Public Works superintendent.

Ledeboer said the city acquired the permit in April 2012. This year, the city submitted and received approval for the discharge management plan, which is required for cities over 10,000 in population.

The agency requires cities to develop a surveillance program to set action thresholds. The thresholds are ways of counting the mosquito populations.

"You can do that through trapping methods and dip counts in storm ponds and landing counts on the number of mosquitoes that land on you in a specific area in a certain amount of time and on a complaint basis,'' Ledeboer says.

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The action thresholds must be met before an area can be sprayed.

"That hasn't been a problem for us because when we're doing the landing counts, we're meeting them all over. They seem to be bad everywhere,'' he said.

What the agency is trying to do is limit blanket spraying everything every time, Ledeboer said. He said the agency wants specific target areas.

"Usually for us we're the size where if one area is bad they're bad everywhere. Maybe if we can spray a little less and do more treating ponds with larvicide we can try to address the problem before it gets to be a hatch of mosquitoes,'' said Ledeboer.

The entire city has been sprayed four times and spot-spraying was done at Robbins Island, Baker Field and Sonshine Festival. In addition, workers applied larvicide in stagnant surface waters, primarily stormwater ponds.

So far, the city has spent $16,720 on mosquito control this year, which is about average, with two months remaining in the season. Future spraying this year depends on the weather.

Ledeboer said many of the wet areas treated with larvicide have dried up and won't be an issue.

"But that all changes if we get another significant rainfall. Then it all changes and the eggs hatch. Anything that holds water for over 3 days is going to be a mosquito problem for us,'' he said.

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Pothole filling is underway

Ledeboer said the Public Works Department has so far patched and filled potholes 18 days and put down about 285 tons of patching mix. On a yearly average, the department is generally out patching 30 to 40 days and uses between 700 to 1,000 tons of mix.

"With 2 to 3 months to go in the season, we'll be pretty close to average, I think,'' he said.

Catch basins being repaired

Repairs are also being made to stormwater catch basins. The catch basins need repair because frost action in the soil under the road surface causes openings between the catch basin casting and the road surface, resulting in the washing out of base material and causing voids between the street surface and the base, it was explained.

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