PLAINVIEW, TX (KCBD) - UPDATE: Plainview City Council approved the contract and interlocal agreements on Tuesday.
A decision by the Plainview City Council Tuesday could allow for numerous cities on the South Plains to enter an interlocal agreement for aerial mosquito spraying.
Plainview city leaders will consider allowing the city manager to enter a contract with Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) to provide the aerial vector control service to Plainview on a contingency basis, meaning when needed or in an emergency situation.
The council will also consider giving the authority to the city manger to sign interlocal agreements with local cities, allowing them the ability to use the same company services.
VDCI, headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, will only bring its services to the South Plains if at least 10,000 acres is sprayed.
"We have an adequate acreage to have our own spray," Plainview Public Works Director Timothy Crosswhite said. "A lot of these other smaller cities don't have that option. This gives them the opportunity to enter into an agreement with us at our cost."
That cost is 92 cents per acre. Each city would also be responsible for purchasing the chemical.
"It's about 85 to 90 percent effective." Crosswhite said. "Ground assault and larvicide usually does take care of it but on occasion you get a lot of rain and things like that, and it isn't as effective. At that point, we would do the aerial application. It is a little more costly so we don't want to do it unless we need to."
For several years Plainview and other cities have only been able to do ground applications and treatments to bodies of water. Local aerial services have not been available. City officials say many companies needed payment upfront, could not afford the liability or left to find work elsewhere.
"With ground cover vector control we typically have to do several applications and it does cost the city a lot of money to have to pay the labor and everything involved," Ransom Canyon City Manager Elena Quintanilla said. "I think the effectiveness [of aerial spraying] is one manner in which our cities will benefit. Then, the cost effectiveness when we looked at the cost we are paying, is half the cost we did 10 years ago because VDCI is a large company."
Quintanilla is credited with getting cities such as Idalou, Wolfforth, Ralls, Crosbyton, Shallowater, Levelland and many others to the table to meet with VDCI and Plainview. Most cities interested in the interlocal agreement are awaiting Plainview's decision.
"It's easier for cities to have an interlocal cooperation/agreement with a city already doing it," Quintanilla said. "We can easily procure our services in that manner. We look at that as an effective way for smaller cities to piggyback off of [Plainview's] procurement."
City officials say the biggest objective in this is to control any potential diseases the insects bring to the communities. Together, they hope to keep not only their cities but the entire South Plains healthy.
"I do believe our neighbors' mosquitoes become our mosquitoes," Quintanilla said. "If we are all tackling this problem jointly I think we have a more effective rate in combating the mosquito population."
Crosswhite says the aerial application is safe and each acre requires only the amount of chemical as big as a Sweet 'n Low packet. He tells KCBD because of the disperse pattern, the chemical doesn't reach the ground.
City of Lubbock health officials say Lubbock will not be part of this agreement as it feels its vector control is adequate and it can request an aerial spray by the State of Texas in the event of an emergency.
KCBD will provide an update as to the decision made by the City of Plainview. To see the meeting agenda, click here.