Drought ‘blessing’

Andrew Mathieson
A GEELONG councillor has applauded the drought for purging mosquitos from the Bellarine Peninsula this summer.
Environment portfolio-holder and peninsula ward councillor Tom O’Connor told about 100 residents at a council meeting in Portarlington this week that the drought had helped City Hall controls on the annual mosquito problem.
“It (the lack of rain) really has been a blessing,” Cr O’Connor said.
“All I can say is this news is good news for the season.”
Cr O’Connor suggested that council could put aside unused funds for this season’s mosquito management program following one of the region’s driest years on record.
Aerial spraying had been running under budget due to the lack of conducive weather for mosquito breeding.
But council recognised mosquito levels could jump after a few days of enough rain.
Mosquitoes have been an ongoing issue for peninsula residents in recent years.
Researchers have linked mosquitos to the Bellarine Peninsula’s flesh-eating Bairnsdale ulcer, although they have not determined whether the insects carry or cause the bug.
Geelong’s council started controls earlier than usual this year to head off the annual nuisance, issuing a permit on November 4 to allow treatment to take place in the region.
Ground crews are continuing to monitor and treat all breeding sites, including residential drains.
City staff have also attended community meetings at Ocean Grove/Barwon Heads, Queenscliff/Point Lonsdale, St Leonards/Indented Head and Portarlington to explain the control program.
Council remains locked in a battle with the Bracks Government over combating mosquitoes on Crown-owned land, where most of the insects emerge.
The City claims neither the Department of Human Services or the Department of Sustainability and Environment have been prepared to take financial responsibility to share funding for the spraying program.