Fetid swimming pools: the mortgage meltdown’s latest collateral damage

April 3, 2009

The subprime meltdown, housing market crash and tough economic times have left behind more than broken dreams and empty bank accounts in California. 

It has also meant a growing number of neglected or abandoned backyard swimming pools across Southern California  — either because the homes are in foreclosure or because owners can’t afford to maintain them anymore.

Those pools quickly turn stagnant, fetid and foul, bad for summer swim parties or barbecues but perfect as swampy breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

That’s why vector control officials in Orange County have turned to surveillance from the sky, hiring an aerial photography company to conduct flyovers of the area, spotting tell-tale green pools and reporting them back to the agency for action.

After all, Orange County may be best known for wealthy housewives, multimillion-dollar beach mansions and Disneyland, but last year it also had 71 confirmed West Nile Virus infections and three deaths.

“Some people are still paying the mortgage, but they’ve stopped paying the pool guy,” Orange County Vector Control District Spokesman Mike Hearst told the Orange County Register newspaper.

The Register reported that last year officials found and treated about 1,200 neglected pools and think they have identified another 730 in the latest aerial survey, which was conducted on March 13.

Photo credit: Reuters/ Jeff Topping (Treating a neglected swimming pool)

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