First Confirmed Cases of Mosquito-transmitted Zika Virus Make Eliminating Standing Water a Top Priority for Homeowners

Mosquitoes are known to carry many diseases, including malaria, West Nile Virus and heartworms. Zika Virus has recently joined the list, having been linked to birth defects in babies through the bite of an infected mosquito. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it only takes one week for standing water to turn in to a thriving breeding habitat for mosquitoes.

With the first confirmed cases of mosquito-transmitted Zika Virus in the continental U.S., the task for homeowners to keep pesky mosquitos away from homes, yards and gardens is now an even more urgent one. This makes the task for homeowners of keeping pesky mosquitos away from yards and gardens an urgent and high priority one, and makes that low spot on a property where water always collects much more troublesome than just being an eyesore.

The single most effective thing homeowners can do to minimize the presence of mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water wherever it occurs. Although many people think solving their drainage problems will be difficult and costly, or that they’ll end up with an ugly ditch on their property, it is possible to eliminate standing water cost-effectively and attractively.

Here are five steps for addressing areas with standing water problems:

Check the usual suspects first: Is there a low area in the yard that always creates a small pond after it rains? Are any downspouts or gutters clogged with debris? Does water linger along a retaining wall, edging, walkway or patio? These are the most common trouble areas for standing water, and they are important to fix because mosquitoes can lay their eggs in very shallow standing water.

Address the easy fixes first: The gutters, downspouts and minor collection spots are easily addressed by simply clearing away obstructions. When those issues are resolved, concentrate on addressing a property’s low areas. Specifically, it’s important to look for muddy, wet areas because they can kill grass and attract mosquitoes that can eventually lead to more serious damage to a customer’s property.

Determine the scope of the problem: Standing water on a property can occur in multiple spots, from walkways to lawns. To identify the problem and research possible solutions, check the many resources online from manufacturers of drainage and stormwater management products. For example, NDS, Inc. offers an online Home Drainage Center with free information for fixing existing or potential drainage problems and how-to guides to installing drainage products.

Choose and install a drainage solution: The two most common solutions for fixing standing water problems are catch basins and dry wells. Catch basins are designed to trap sediment, debris, contaminants and pollutants so that they cannot enter drainage pipes, and are installed beneath downspouts. Dry wells are underground structures that collect and retain runoff and are typically a round plastic container with holes in it to allow water to seep slowly out and return to the groundwater. Placing drainage solutions underground not only minimizes the risk of mosquitoes breeding in standing water, but it can also preserve the visual appeal of your landscape.

Use drip irrigation to water landscapes and plants. Traditional overhead sprinklers will result in overspray that will drain down and puddle. To reduce standing water, instead install dripperline, single point emitters or low volume sprayers. Drip irrigation and good drainage go hand in hand, and in addition to eliminating standing water that can attract mosquitoes, drip irrigation minimizes soil loss and erosion and prevents harmful waterlogging and salinization where excessive salts accumulate in the soil.

Solving a standing water problem starts with understanding the unique features of a property and eliminating the most likely trouble spots. Once the cause of a standing water problem has been identified, it’s critical to act quickly and effectively to address the issue before an aesthetic problem becomes a health hazard.

Ryan Larsen is a civil engineer at NDS, Inc. He is also known as “Dr. Drainage”as host of NDS’s educational YouTube video series on drainage systems and storm water management. Email: drdrainage@ndspro.com; Twitter:@dr_drainage.

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