Officials balk at cost of fighting mosquitoes at prison site

Mosquitoes are the latest issue with Utah's decision to move the state prison to a new site


Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Mosquitoes are the latest issue with Utah's decision to move the state prison to a new site near the Salt Lake City airport.

Unless the Utah Legislature moves to change something, Salt Lake City homeowners will be on the hook for the pesticides needed to rid the prison site of the millions of mosquitoes that descended there this summer.

The Utah Legislature voted to move the state prison from Draper to the site west of Salt Lake City International Airport last year after months of debate. The chosen area is primarily marshy wetlands and farmland.

Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District Manager Ary Faraji estimates that it would take more than $160,000 a year to fight the bugs near the new prison. He argued Tuesday at a meeting with state employees that the Legislature should cover the ongoing cost.

"It really is unfair for the residents of Salt Lake City to take on that burden," he said.

Faraji's estimate only accounts for what Salt Lake City would pay. The prison site also abuts the Magna Mosquito Abatement District, which expects to pay more than $50,000 a year to spray the area, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

In addition to the cost of pesticides, Faraji said it will be important that prison construction modifies the area so that runoff from buildings doesn't create new pools of standing water in which mosquitoes will breed.

"When you impound water, you go through cycles of flooding and dry-down and flooding and dry-down, which is exactly what produces mosquitoes," he said. "We're basically taking the prison and putting it into a habitat that is historically and notoriously known for producing large numbers of mosquitoes."

Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Adams said the mosquito control is on the department's list of things to figure out.

"We definitely want to be part of a discussion in the future about the control of mosquitoes and other insects," she said.

Utah Administrative Services operations officer Marilee Richins told the Deseret News that the mosquito issue affects all three parcels that are being considered for the prison and will unlikely determine where the new complex is built.

"Every site had its issues," Richins said. "The mosquito issue was identified at this site before it was ever selected, and we will work collaboratively to address it."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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