Neighbors fear drainage ditch is mosquito breeding ground

South Austin community concerned over drainage ditch
South Austin community concerned over drainage ditch (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After weeks of heavy rain, some areas still aren’t drying out, causing concern over mosquito breeding grounds.

In one South Austin neighborhood, an expectant mother says she’s afraid to go in her backyard.

“I will not go outside. The extent of my time outside is spent traveling from the front door to my car,” said Claire Dunn. “It’s definitely nerve-wracking. My mind is a little bit more at ease knowing that we haven’t had local transmissions of it — yet.”

Since February, she and neighbors say they noticed the drainage ditch behind their homes wasn’t draining.

Her next door neighbor, who’s lived there for 30 years, says this has never happened.

Many have concerns heavy rains aren’t the only factor.

“There’s been new development down the ditch from us, and there’s a retention pond there. We’re concerned that new development has just overtaxed this drainage ditch,” said Dunn.

The Watershed Protection Department tells KXAN they’ve inspected the ditch, and say everything is functioning properly.

“With this much water we’ve had, that’s the recharge area of Austin, which means water can go into the ground, but also we have a lot of seeps and springs that just come up,” said Roxanne Jackson, a field operations division manager with the Watershed Protection Department.

While the city hasn’t analyzed the retention pond to see if there’s a connection, Jackson says there likely isn’t one. She adds that they can’t go in and remove the water from the drainage ditch.

“Mother nature working, and we can come in there and try to affect it but, like I said, the effect may not be what we want,” said Jackson.

While the Watershed Protection Department cannot speed up the process of draining a drainage ditch, homeowners have other options.

By calling 311 and requesting the Rodent & Vector Program, an official can come to your property and access it for mosquito problems. And in some cases, they will treat the property.

Jackson says homeowners will have to be patient. She says it could take a couple of weeks to dry out, or possibly the entire summer, and that it depends on the water table and how much moisture is in the ground.

For homeowners like Dunn, it’s hard to be patient, with so much on the line.

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