TOMS RIVER - Ocean County will temporarily waive its tire recycling fee in order to encourage old tire recycling and assist in the effort to curtail mosquito breeding grounds.
"This is a program that is brought about by a partnership with the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission and the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management," said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, who serves as liaison to the Mosquito Commission. "This will be particularly helpful now and throughout the summer as we move into the height of mosquito season in Ocean County."
The County, under an agreement with the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission, will use $23,082 in funding from the 2017 Center for Disease Control ELC Capacity Building Efforts federal grant distributed through the state Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Mosquito Control Coordination, to waive the $2 tire recycling fee.
The free tire recycling program will begin Aug. 1 and will continue until the funds are depleted.
Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the county's recycling program, said residents can drop off old tires at either of the county's regional recycling centers.
Tires can be brought to the Ocean County Northern Recycling Center, New Hampshire Avenue, Lakewood, or the Ocean County Southern Recycling Center, Recovery Road, Stafford Township, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Residents will be limited to dropping off no more than five tires per day.
"This program will help our efforts to be good environmental stewards and to reduce the risks of mosquito vectors known to transmit the Zika virus," said Little, who also serves as liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. "We need to be vigilant especially this time of year and raise awareness to help control the mosquito population for the health and safety of our residents."
The Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission was awarded the grant to support its activities in identifying and controlling mosquitoes with a particular emphasis on activities designed to monitor for and control any identified populations of exotic invasive mosquito vectors known to transmit Zika virus.
"We are hopeful this program will help encourage our residents to clear their property of old tires and bring them to our recycling centers where they will be discarded properly, said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari.
Ocean County collects about 3,000 tires a year for recycling and anticipates that number to increase with the waiving of the fee.
"The Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission maintains vigilance year-round in order to keep down the mosquito population," said Freeholder Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. "Successful mosquito extermination comes from a combined effort on the part of the County and also its citizens."
The Mosquito Extermination Commission employs an extensive surveillance program using light traps and landing rate counts that are collected around the County daily during the mosquito season which typically runs from May 1 to Sept. 30.
Once locations are identified, there are several measures that can be used to control the mosquito population, depending upon the situation. The method is known as Integrated Pest Management.
According to Michael Romanowski, Commission superintendent, chemical application is one method with the main concentration on larvicide applications to control the pre-adult mosquito.
There also are biological controls, such as mosquito predaceous fish or the use of copepods. Another possibility is source reduction whereby the habitat can be altered to prevent future mosquito production, he said.
The commission uses its ground spray trucks, each equipped with power sprayers to apply larvicides. If the areas are very large, the commission has two helicopters to treat the areas aerially. However, most of the aerial applications are made on the county's extensive salt marshes.
"Ocean County has long been known for its large numbers of salt marsh mosquitoes," Romanowski said. "Through a process known as Open Marsh Water Management, the problematic salt marsh areas can be managed through the use of amphibious equipment, to eliminate the mosquito production without the use of pesticides. Once completed, the areas become more useful to other members of the tidal food web, and remain in that state indefinitely."
While Ocean County looks at the bigger picture in controlling the mosquito population, the Freeholders strongly urge residents to get involved with helping to reduce the population especially by eliminating areas that can act as breeding grounds on private property.
"Since many breeds of mosquitoes use containers like discarded tires that are commonly found around populated areas, eliminating the sources of water is often the best approach to controlling this mosquito population," said Kelly, who also serves as a commissioner on the Mosquito Extermination Commission.
"Extermination commission workers often pickup tires as they treat areas for mosquitoes. These mosquitoes can often be found in water amounts as small as that of a bottle cap."
Other common problematic areas are planter bases, tarps, garbage pails, and the many other water containers found around the home or business.
"Most of our residents do not realize just how extensive our mosquito extermination program is," said Kelly. "We take this threat very seriously and work to make certain our residents and visitors are safe from mosquitoes and the ongoing threat they may pose."
Residents who have questions about mosquitoes and concerns can contact the commission by calling 609-698-8271, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 pm. For additional tips, visit the commission website at www.oceancountymosquito.org.
For more information on the tire recycling program call 1-800-55-RECYCLE.