HARVARD -- The Board of Health is preparing a draft of a West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis prevention plan to be placed as an article on the annual Town Meeting warrant. In the meantime, the board wants to assess the town's feelings about the program before they follow through.
WNV and EEE are both carried by mosquitoes and continue to be a threat in Massachusetts. The Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project is a state agency that falls under the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board, which is an agency in the Department of Agricultural Resources.
The project allows for year-round mosquito management for its members. So far, over 40 cities and towns in Middlesex and Worcester counties are part of this program. The cost to be a member is approximately $73,000 per year.
The program provides the community with seven areas of mosquito control including larval control, adult mosquito control, wetland restoration/ditch maintenance, mosquito surveillance, public education, research and efficacy and source reduction.
According to CMMCP, "Spraying is done only after request by a property owner or after mosquito-borne viruses are identified, local and state officials have been consulted and it has been determined that spraying is an appropriate response. Residents may exclude their property from any part of our program at any time."
"I would like to make a recommendation to host a public hearing on (the program) to get a sense of the town before we jump in and go full on down this road," Board of Health member Sharon McCarthy said.
"How big of a discussion do you envision?" member Lorin Johnson asked. "I'm just worried that if we hold a hearing only those strongly against the program with show up, and that's not necessarily a representation on how the town feels."
"We need to do this before we draft the article because if we get the idea that no one is interested in this then there is no point in going forward," McCarthy said.