Posted on Mon, May. 16, 2005


While visiting my mother on Mother's Day I read the May 8 Speak Up letter, Alvarez focused on health concern, about mosquitoes in storm drains installed by Miami-Dade County. I then walked outside to look into the drain that was installed in her driveway about two years ago. It was full of dirty water and lots of flying bugs.

My mother, who has lived in her West Dade home since 1956, never had mosquito problems in the past. She's 87 and still likes to garden, but lately she's been complaining that she can't go outside without being bitten by mosquitoes.

I worry because the alerts for West Nile Virus warn that people my mother's age are most at risk. Have you ever tried to stop an 87-year-old woman from doing what she wants to do?

In all the years that she has lived there, she has never had a flooding problem. So why was money spent to install drains in her neighborhood, which obviously did not need them?


For years the county inspected my property for standing water. Now it has installed storm drains, which hold standing water. If I call, they pour in chemicals to kill the mosquito larvae. That's not a solution.


My mother still lives in the same Southwest Dade house that I was born and raised in. Growing up, we were rarely ever bothered by mosquitoes. However, since new storm drains were installed in the neighborhood in 2003, mosquitoes are always in her yard.

The county health department should actively lead the effort to eliminate this public-health threat.


If I am not mistaken, the Building Better Communities program that we voted on last year included more and improved county-drainage systems. There must be a solution to remove the mosquito-breeding problem and make the drains safer before more bond money is spent.


Our government should not build structures that breed mosquitoes. But larvicide treatments in catch basins are not the answer, either.

Our county government tells us it's illegal to put anything into storm drains, so why do county administrators think it's OK to put poisons in these drains?

According to the Extension Toxicology Network -- a cooperative effort of the University of California-Davis, Oregon State University, Michigan State University, Cornell University and the University of Idaho -- methoprene (the most common active ingredient in larvicides) ``is very highly toxic to some species of fresh-water, estuarine and marine invertebrates.''

Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from it. We must practice agriculture that replenishes the soil, move to an energy-efficient economy and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.


Considering that my Olympia Heights neighborhood never had flooding damage in its 45-year history, I always considered the new street drains to be just another government boondoggle. Let's spend the money to do good research for a smarter way to handle our perceived flood problems.


I lived in Horse Country, a West Dade neighborhood, for most of the 1990s, where my family and friends enjoyed outdoor living with almost no mosquitoes.

But just in the last year or so when I've visited my friends who still live there, the mosquitoes have forced us to stay inside. I think it was only about a year ago that the county finished installing the new storm drains there.

I work as a tour guide at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. The mosquitoes are now worse in Horse Country than they are where I work. These drains should be fixed.


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