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County sees no gray area in pulling plug on green pools

Clark County code enforcement employees drained about 60 pools valley wide in June as part a campaign to cut back on the health risks associated with green pools.

The county places a $250 tax lien on the property to cover the cost of draining the pool.

"The majority of homes we deal with are foreclosed or vacant," said David Pollex, code enforcement supervisor for the county. "If there is someone living there, we give them 72 hours to take care of the problem."

Pollex said stagnant pools pose serious problems aside from the unsightliness – namely mosquito-borne diseases such as the West Nile Virus.

Clark County reported 11 cases of the virus in 2011, up from none in 2010.

County Commissioner Susan Brager said the foreclosure crisis is partly to blame, as many pools have been unattended to, resulting in warm, stagnant water perfect for breeding mosquitoes.

"All of the districts have a high number of vacant residences," she said. "Green pools are a health risk that we can eliminate."

The Clark County Commission is not taking the matter lightly. The commissioners are asking residents to report neglected pools to local code enforcement agencies.

"We don’t mess around with it," Pollex said. "We drain ’em and get it done."

Once Pollex’s department receives a report of a green pool, his crew is dispatched to verify the report, and a contractor is sent to drain the pool.

"We can usually get the job done in one day," he said. "I’d say that’s pretty efficient considering the way government is run these days."

The county needs the public’s help because code enforcement does not have the manpower to find and drain all of the valley’s green pools, Pollex said, adding that residents should not hesitate to report their neighbor’s pool.

"Mosquitoes don’t care if they’re in your neighbor’s backyard or your s," he said.

There are 17 species of mosquitoes in the Las Vegas Valley, all of which potentially can become carriers of West Nile Virus.

Chris Bramley, the county’s vector control supervisor, said residents should be concerned about the growing number of West Nile cases.

"Water only needs to be stagnant for seven to 10 days before it can become a breeding zone for mosquitoes," he said.

Bramley added that green pools should not be people’s only concern, as flood channels, storm drains and any other areas with standing water can also serve as breeding zones.

The vector control department surveys about 35 locations monthly and uses a variety of methods to control the mosquito population, including methoprene, a nontoxic substance that mimics insect hormones and disrupts the mosquitoe s’ life cycle, and a substance called agquine , made from plant oils, which spreads over the surface of the water, preventing pupae from breathing oxygen.

Still, Bramley said small preventative measures taken by individuals can go a long way.

"People should understand the environment around them," he said. "Because it’s so hot during the day, people are usually active around the evening and morning times, when mosquitoes are biting."

Bramley added that people should consider using mosquito repellent with DEET or wearing clothing with ample coverage.

"We want to get back to zero cases (of West Nile Virus)," Brager said. "We’re trying to get all public services involved."

Residents of unincorporated Clark County can report green pools by calling 455-4191 or filing a complaint through the county website at clarkcountynv.gov. Las Vegas residents can call 229-6615, Henderson residents can call 267-3950 and North Las Vegas residents can call 633-1677.

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Nolan Lister at nlister@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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