Pasco takes aim at tires to prevent Zika spread

Posted at 10:56 PM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 00:48:47-05
Pasco County is tired of tires.
The county has been battling the illegal dumping of them for years, but now health officials warn those tires could be a breeding ground for the Zika virus.
"I've been living here for 30 years. I fought that for 12," Moon Lake resident Roger Smith said.
He's referring to a pile of tires numbering nearly 10,000 that were piled on a property next door for years. 
"Basically you could not go out of your home in the evening, especially about this time of day," Smith said.
He's talking about the mosquitoes and neighbor Sandy Brooks remembers them well. 
"Especially after it rains, the mosquitos were swarming us," Brooks said.
At the time, even before the Zika virus, mosquito-borne illnesses were on everyone’s mind.
"It was a constant worry," Smith said.
While the fight on Bessemer Street finally ended in victory for these neighbors, and the county removing the tires, officials say the battle is far from over.
"It is a big problem," said Charles Ryburn, the county’s environmental manager.
Ryburn said every day his crews pick up tires thrown aside throughout the county. But inside the tires, mosquitos are making themselves at home.
"Once they’re dumped, they're usually not disturbed for a while. The water remains in there stagnant for a long time, so it’s a perfect breeding ground," Ryburn said.
So now with the Zika virus as close as Hillsborough County, leaders in Pasco are taking action by offering tire disposal. 
Anyone with tires can drop them off March 13 for free at the county landfill in Spring Hill or the east Pasco transfer station. 
They hope it will prevent more breeding grounds like the one on Bessemer Street while keep mosquito breeding at bay.