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City, residents battle West Nile

It was reassuring to learn that Denton code enforcement officers share residents’ concerns about stagnant water in neglected swimming pools and are addressing the problem.

We understand that city staff members put together a new tool for code enforcement officers — an affidavit template for mosquito abatement — and that the municipal judge agreed to be on call to review those affidavits so complaints could be addressed more quickly.

Quick action is called for, considering the growing number of cases of West Nile virus reported in Denton, the county and across North Texas.

Authorities confirmed last week that a Denton man in his 90s was the first confirmed West Nile-related death in the county this year. Across the state, the disease has claimed at least a dozen lives and sickened hundreds.

Like we said, quick action is called for.

In July, officials confirmed an average of one case per day. During the first 10 days of August, officials confirmed an average of three cases per day.

Some area residents may not be taking the outbreak seriously enough, and that needs to change. The sooner we all do our part to eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds in the area, the sooner we will be on the road to eliminating the threat.

That’s why we were impressed by Denton’s response to reports of stagnant water in neglected swimming pools and staff members’ proactive approach to the problem.

There are many possible sources of stagnant water — it only takes a small amount to breed mosquitoes — but most are minor and easily remedied. Homeowners can quickly check for any standing water and either drain it or use Mosquito Dunks or other methods to treat the water.

But neglected backyard pools can be a serious problem, especially when the pools are located behind unoccupied houses or on foreclosed property, when there is no property owner handy to work with city staff members.

Pools built for North Texas soils are not designed to be drained for anything other than repairs, Gohlke Pools owner Matt Gohlke told us.

“When they are empty, they are more susceptible to movement or coming out of the ground,” he said.

Once a swimming pool is built, it has to be cared for.

Considering the state of the economy in recent years, it’s understandable that some area properties may have been standing vacant for a long time and that some swimming pools have been forgotten.

But it’s good to know that a lot of concerned residents have taken the time and trouble to report such problems and that city staff members are aware of the threat and working to eliminate it.