June 21, 2008

Mosquito-Breeding Pools Violate City Nuisance Codes: Important Numbers:

By Kim Archer, Tulsa World, Okla.

Jun. 21--Neglected swimming pools from which hordes of mosquitoes are spawned violate city code because they endanger public health, said Harold Adair, the neighborhood abatement coordinator for the city of Tulsa.

"It is a nuisance violation. You can't maintain a pool of stagnant water," he said.

As a health issue, the Tulsa City-County Health Department has joint jurisdiction with the city over such complaints, said John Baker, the agency's manager of environmental services. He suggests calling both the city and the Health Department to report such pools.

"We can perhaps short-circuit this a little bit quicker," Baker said.

Adair said the city's process for nuisance complaints begins with a person's call to the Mayor's Action Center.

The complaint is entered into the system, sent to the Neighborhood Inspections Department and assigned to an inspector.

Cases are handled on a priority basis, Adair said.

"Priority 1 is anything that is an immediate danger to life, health or safety," he said. "Those are hazards we worry about."

Once the complaint is assigned, the inspector responds as soon as possible. However, with only seven inspectors to cover the city and an average

of 2,200 complaints each month, that can take time, Adair said.

If the inspector finds the complaint valid, the first step is to seek voluntary compliance. If the pool or nuisance is not taken care of within 10 days, the inspector issues a work order and citations. Typically, crews drain the pool, and residents are billed for the cost of the work plus a $300 administrative fee, he said.

"Our goal is always voluntary compliance," Adair said. "We only want a minimum amount of government intrusion into people's lives."

Baker said people also may call the Health Department's Environmental Services Unit and make a complaint.

A health inspector will visit the site within two days and issue a three-day order on the spot for valid nuisances. If residents do not comply with the order, the violation is turned over to the Neighborhood Inspections Department for follow-up, he said.

Two cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Oklahoma this month, earlier than normal in the state.

State health officials have cited excessive rainfall and warm temperatures as the perfect weather pattern for mosquito reproduction.

Kim Archer 581-8315 [email protected]


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