West Marin is a unique environment with an exceptional community working for clean air, pure waters, healthy ecosystems, a diverse and thriving native flora and fauna, and the preservation of a rural, community spirit. Prevention of unnecessary pesticide use is critical for the residents and sensitive ecosystems of West Marin.
West Marin Mosquito Council Agreement
In 2004, West Marin was annexed into the Marin Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District. Vector Control Districts have very broad power to abate vectors (CA Health and Safety Code Division 3, Section 2040-2055 and Division 3, Section 2060-2067). The residents of West Marin reacted to the proposed use of toxic chemicals being introduced to the environment to abate mosquitoes.
In response to 80% of Bolinas voters approved a poll to direct Bolinas Community Public Utility District (BCPUD) to take measures to protect against the use of pesticides within BCPUD boundaries, the Bolinas Lagoon and its watershed.
Residents of greater West Marin supported this approach and the original advisory committee expanded in 2006 and became the West Marin Mosquito Control Coordinating Council (WMMCCC). The expanded council consists of 18 representatives from West Marin unincorporated villages, special districts, state and national parks, and organic and environmental organizations.
In 2006, a non-toxic protocol was signed limiting the methods used to control mosquitoes in West Marin to education, prevention (physical and mechanical) and biologic treatments approved for certified organic farms.
The introduction of toxic pesticides and herbicides into the environment threatens aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, human health, our local economy, organic farms and gardens. The West Marin Mosquito Council Agreement ensures the precautionary principle is in effect by limiting the introduction of toxic pesticides and herbicides into our environment. The agreement is a model for other communities in Marin County and beyond.
The original agreement was updated and renewed in 2007 and in 2009 was extended for a period of five years (2014). The agreement expires in June 2016 and is currently being negotiated by representatives of the West Marin Mosquito Council and the Marin Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District.
Morgan Patton – May 1, 2016
The West Marin Mosquito Council (WMMC) is making progress towards a renewed agreement with the Marin Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District (MSMVCD). Representatives of the WMMC and MSMVCD have participated in renegotiation meetings with Supervisor Steve Kinsey, since the fall of 2015. The next meeting will occur on May 6th, with the WMMC voting on the agreement on Monday, May 9th.
The WMMC agreement restricts the MSMVCD’s use of pesticides, limiting the toolbox of over twenty-two mosquito pesticide treatments to five. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) approves four of the five pesticides listed in the current agreement.
Negotiations have been challenging, as the MSMVCD is requiring the addition of the known estuarine and marine invertebrate toxin, methoprene, to the list of acceptable pesticides to control mosquito populations.
MSMVCD requests the inclusion of methoprene to replace Agnique MMF, the one non-OMRI approved pesticide on the current agreement.
Agnique MMF is currently in use to abate the pupa life-stage of mosquitoes. With the discontinuation of Agnique MMF, the MSMVCD would like to replace it with methoprene, as Altosid Briquets to be applied to problematic septic tanks that are not properly screened and sealed. Several WMMC members are opposed to this inclusion.
In addition, the WMMC would like to add the San Geronimo Valley to the agreement to ensure a healthy watershed based on the flow of the San Geronimo and Lagunitas Creeks into Tomales Bay.
At this time, the WMMC understands the MSMVCD is currently using a variety of the 22 mosquito treatment pesticides to treat mosquitoes in the San Geronimo Valley.
This is concerning, as it may negatively affect the health of the residents, sensitive ecosystems, and species like the red-legged frog, salmon, and aquatic invertebrates.
As of April 2016, the status of the agreement may be on track for a four-year renewal. Final negotiations will occur on May 6th.
The revised agreement includes:
- The addition of methoprene, in the form of Altosid Briquets, to be limited for use in problematic septic tanks.
- Language has been added that provides priority considerations for the use of new alternative products that are OMRI approved to replace methoprene in the future.
- The WMMC will receive a map that delineates the agreement area as that of the original annexation lands.
- WMMC will receive the ability to communicate with property owners about how to repair septic-systems. The WMMC will work on a public outreach effort to screen and seal problem septic tanks. At this time, out of 5,500 properties, there are 133 problem septic tanks to address in Stinson Beach and Bolinas.
- The MSMVCD will provide quarterly reports to the WMMC detailing work performed in West Marin.
The revised agreement does not include the San Geronimo Valley. The MSMVCD indicates the San Geronimo Valley annexed at an earlier time, and any inclusion to an agreement would need to be negotiated separate from the WMMC agreement.
As one of the environmental WMMC members, EAC must consider the environmental impacts introduced pesticides have on residents and sensitive ecosystems.
- The use of pesticides, including methoprene—that are not OMRI listed—are incompatible with the protection of West Marin’s community health, watersheds, organic farms, and wildlife.
- Inclusion of the San Geronimo Valley is critical for a healthy Tomales Bay watershed. Based on the challenges in the current negotiations, the San Geronimo Valley may have to be achieved after an agreement is reached with WMMC. EAC will continue to work on this issue to ensure that the San Geronimo Valley will be included in the future.
- Prevention of problems is critical. Based on this, EAC will take a leadership role to coordinate programmatic details for a large-scale public outreach, education, and prevention program to seal and screen septic tanks in West Marin villages in partnership with other groups and Ameri-Corps.
EAC is adamantly opposed to the addition of methoprene, and will cast a no vote on any agreement renewal including methoprene (Altosid Briquets).
Reaching an agreement on this issue is important. Without an agreement, the MSMVCD has very broad power to abate vectors within the district. If an agreement is not reached, West Marin would need to consider taking steps to de-annex from the MSMVCD. This process could take more than a year and would require an extensive amount of political mobilization. De-annexation may be on the table if the West Marin residents do not want methoprene being used as a treatment alternative in septic tanks and the MSMVCD will not compromise.