Mosquito control a priority during monsoon season
El Paso Water's extensive stormwater infrastructure is put to the test during monsoon season, with the system working to contain and drain excess rainwater. With the 400 stormwater ponds across El Paso, many are designed to send stormwater to the Rio Grande while others retain flows that eventually filter into the groundwater. Sometimes following heavy rains, the retention ponds can result in stagnant water, creating ideal conditions for mosquito breeding. EPWater monitors these situations and actively pursues mosquito abatement strategies.
"Mosquitos are going to naturally be part of any pond we build. But if we stay on top of it, we can prevent it from becoming a problem," says Stormwater Operations Manager Martin Noriega.
EPWater considers mosquito control part of its public safety mission and takes a proactive approach with five methods of control.
- For certain ponds that pose a high risk of becoming a mosquito breeding ground, crews sometimes apply a one percent mixture of sodium hypochlorite – essentially swimming pool chlorine, which is highly effective at killing mosquitos and their eggs.
- In select ponds, crews apply Altosid briquettes – sometimes referred to as "dunks" – that prevent mosquitos from hatching.
- When dealing with ponds meant to retain water for longer periods of time, EPWater takes a more natural approach and adds Gambusia (aka Mosquitofish), which eat the mosquitos and their eggs.
- In some ponding areas, gypsum is added to the soil to speed the filtering and percolation into the ground.
- Finally, EPWater partners with the City of El Paso's Vector Control department, which proactively sprays pond areas to reduce mosquitos and other insects around the city.
"When we take this combined approach and work with other entities, we can really make a difference with suppressing mosquitoes," says Noriega.
EPWater continues efforts to decrease the flood risk by building new stormwater ponds, channels and pump stations citywide. EPWater will continue to identify and employ the most effective mosquito control measures for the given location to ensure public safety during El Paso's monsoon season.