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Standing water causes dispute, concern in Humarock

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 17, 2012 03:56 PM

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When Scituate resident Gene Ricci looks out from his house in Humarock after a big rain, he sees a lot of standing water.

And that makes him worried.

The puddles, he fears, are nesting grounds for mosquitos that can carry EEE and West Nile Virus.

"There is a question about mosquito born EEE,” Ricci said, who lives on Harvard Street. “This is right across the street to the parking lot where people park and walk over to the beach … There are a lot of children in the area.”

With September and October prime time for contracting EEE and West Nile Virus, according to an email notification sent out mid-September from the town’s website, the issue of standing water has taken on new meaning.

Not to mention that the water sticks around, Ricci said.

When it rains for a day, water pools in pockets on many private streets around Humarock, sitting there for several days until the sun evaporates it away. If it rains any longer, the water collects in the divots along the main road and can sit there for over a week.

However because Harvard Street and many small roads in Humarock are private ways, the town has declined to handle the issue for residents.

“The town collects a lot of tax money down in Humarock, and they turn their back on us. That’s the other issue. We wanted to do things down here to help the area, but the tax dollars they charge us, they give us zero in return. This is an issue I would have thought they would be responsible for,” Ricci said.

Ricci said several of his neighbors have the same complaint.

Making the fix more difficult is the fact that majority of the homeowners in that area are only summer residents.

“I’m there on weekends, and maybe one to two families might be there all summer,” Ricci said. “It’s difficult for us to get someone together to do that. I don’t even know if filling it in is the answer. Because if you fill it in, where is the water going to go?”

Despite the residents’ concerns, DPW Director Al Bangert said the town is not responsible for fixing private roads.

“What we’ve done in Humarock is we’re taking care of public roads and we’re working with people who want to move forward [repairing private roads with their own money],” Bangert said.

According to Bangert, there are several methods for repairing the road. Not only can the neighbors hire a contractor themselves, but they can petition the town to do the work for them, paying for the repair in the form of a betterment.

DPW employees can also drop off unused road grindings to pave the road for free. Neighbors can then hire a contractor to grade and roller it.

“They are private roads … and they need to take care of it,” Bangert said.

Regardless of who fixes the roadway, Jennifer Sullivan, director of public health, said residents should be cautious in the chance that water pools there in the next two months, especially as cases for EEE and West Nile Virus are occurring in unprecedented measure throughout the nation.

“Any standing water should be eliminated. I haven’t seen much standing water lately because it’s been so dry,” she said. “It could be [a health issue]. You don’t get to pick where the mosquitoes grow. It’s a little hard to guess.”

Besides eliminating standing water, residents should avoid going out at dawn or dusk, wear long sleeves and pants when outside, and use mosquito repellent, she said.

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