The Zika virus has put the spotlight on mosquito control in South Florida. And there's nothing like a gnarly green pool to encourage the pests to lay their little eggs. That's why code inspectors countywide are cracking down on negligent pool owners.
Among those caught in the crosshairs: none other than Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who was cited last month for a rental home he owns in Fort Lauderdale.
According to a complaint filed with the City of Fort Lauderdale's Code Compliance Division late last month, a pool on the property — a small house in the Riverside Park neighborhood owned by Carvalho and his wife Maria — was "not maintained, green, and [had] mosquitoes" as well as "pump/circulation issues."
The full complaint notes, “The swimming pool at this property is not being maintained and in proper condition. It is full of stagnant water. It has an accumulation of trash or debris. The pool in this condition is a public nuisance.”
According to Maria Carvalho, the property, which is worth $143,000, is occupied by a tenant and the pool is maintained weekly by a professional company. The problem, she says, is a number of neighboring trees around the property that shed their leaves and create an uncontrollable mess.
“There are several large trees surrounding the yard which belong to the neighboring properties, and in windy conditions, a multitude of leaves fall into the pool,” she tells New Times in an email. “Tree trimming was done last summer and [is] scheduled again next month.”
After they received the complaint, she took swift action to clean up the pool, she says. She has also been communicating with the tenants, who say they are "pleased with the pool."
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March 3, the inspector gave the Carvalhos ten days to "take the appropriate action to... prevent the pool water from becoming a threat to public safety, health, or welfare." The pool has since been cleaned and deemed in compliance, and the case was closed Wednesday.
Though a dirty pool is never good for anyone, it's especially grave now, given the risks posed by the mosquito-borne illness Zika. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito blamed for the Zika outbreak, is found across Florida. The mosquitoes are among the hardest to fight because they live and breed where water collects.
So far, there have been 62 reported cases of Zika across Florida, including 30 in Miami-Dade and eight in Broward, according to the Florida Department of Health. But no cases have been locally acquired, and authorities say they have no reason yet to believe the local mosquito population is carrying the virus.