Environmental Health Department Battling Underground Mosquito Breeding Sites

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Example of water collecting in an underground storage tank. (Photo courtesy of Tyrone Applewhaite – Chief Environmental Health Officer)

The Environmental Health Unit of the Ministry of Health is working to control the mosquito population across the country.

According to Chief Environmental Health Officer, Tyrone Applewhaite, one of the main areas of concern was the existence of approximately over 4,000 underground utility junction boxes that collect water and add to the number of underground breeding sites. He noted that these underground facilities were concentrated under the existing road network mainly along the west and south coasts, as well as Bridgetown. Along with these were also a significant number of underground domestic water storage tanks, he added.

The Chief Environmental Health Officer pointed out that the Town and Country Planning Act Cap 240 made it mandatory that: "Every house that has a gross floor area of 1,500 square feet or more but not more than 3,000 square feet is required to have a water storage tank with the capacity of not less than 3,000 gallons." In addition, "every house that has a gross floor area of 3,000 square feet is required to have a water storage tank with the capacity of not less than 6000 gallons."

Mr. Applewhaite stated that despite the fact that the intended use of collected water was for irrigation and other secondary purposes around the premises, in many instances this collected water was not utilised and thus provided a perfect habitat for the breeding of mosquitoes in many instances. He further explained that underground water tanks could provide the necessary support for thousands of mosquito larvae and, by extension adult mosquitoes. Furthermore, he maintained that the mosquito situation was compounded by the existence of thousands of storm water wells and the associated drainage systems throughout the country.

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More examples of????water collecting in an underground storage tank. (Photo courtesy of Tyrone Applewhaite – Chief Environmental Health Officer)

According to the Chief Environmental Health Officer his department has developed a systematic and integrated framework programme in collaboration with key stakeholders to remedy the situation. He disclosed that the components of the programme included: education, geographic information systems, inspection and monitoring of junction boxes, chemical and biological treatment of junction boxes, regulatory enforcement and process evaluation.

To date, he said, the programme is being implemented by the major utility companies in the country, namely, Cable and Wireless, as well as the Barbados Light and Power Co. Ltd. In the near future, Mr. Applewhaite added, the department is expected to collaborate with other agencies, including the National Petroleum Corporation, the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage, as well as building developers.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Health Department is reminding all householders to inspect their premises, especially all water storage tanks to ensure that premises are free of mosquito breeding. The department further recommends that householders take all precautionary measures to screen all access to water storage tanks to prevent the accessibility of adult mosquitoes to the system.??

Under the Health Services (Control of Mosquitoes) Regulations, 1970, it is the duty of the owner or occupier of all property to keep such property free of mosquitoes. Anyone who contravenes any of the provisions of these regulations is guilty of an offence and on summary conviction is liable to a fine of five thousand dollars or imprisonment for three months or both.

alyson.holder@barbados.gov.bb

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