Spray plan to help reduce ‘biblical’ midge problem

SWARMS OF MIDGES: a common sight for Aranui and Bromley residents.

A plan has been created to help solve the midge problem affecting Aranui and Bromley residents living near the wastewater treatment plant.

The plan was presented at a meeting between residents, city councillors and Coastal-Burwood Community Board members.

City council engineer Adam Twose proposed two solutions which he believes will be effective in reducing the number of midges.

The first part of the plan, set to begin in October, involves methoprene spraying, which will prevent the larvae from developing into adults and breeding.

Methoprene is commonly found in flea treatments for animals. It does not impact significantly on bird or water life.

This solution has been used in the past. However, further scientific data is needed to accurately determine how much is required to reduce the large numbers.

Another part of the plan, which is more long-term, will be the planting of native trees near the edges of the oxidation ponds. The plants will attract midges and be treated with contact pesticide.

Other options previously discussed were UV protection to sterilise the water and draining the ponds. They were deemed too expensive by the city council and are no longer viable.

Installing UV protection was going to come with a price tag of $225 million with an annual upkeep cost of roughly $1.5 million. Mr Twose said the city council could simply not afford to do this.

Residents are still unhappy with the slow action and are facing another summer of midge-related issues.

Janet Profit, of Aranui, was disappointed by the time it has taken to find a solution.

“Personally, I think it’s been a waste of time, I’ve been fighting this for 10 years,” she said.

Aranui resident Heather Porter said the spraying needs to start immediately.

“They said there wasn’t going to be spraying until the first couple of weeks of October, which is far too late, because they are already out there. Another couple of weeks and they will be swarming,” she said.

Councillor David East is aware of the strain the lengthy process is having on residents.

“Again, it’s not offering a huge amount of relief to people right here and now,” he said.

Making summer as pleasant as possible for residents is what Cr East hopes to achieve.

“I think my objective this year is to see if we can substantially reduce the problem from previous years,” he said.

Establishing a monitoring programme will be key to figuring out the extent of the infestation.

“If we can get on top of a well organised spray regime, then maybe we will curb the worst of the problem and move towards a solution that’s going to effectively deal with the issue when it arises, before it gets to epidemic proportions,” Cr East said.

Both residents spoken to by Pegasus Post feel the number of midges in summer has already reached epidemic proportions.