Abandoned pools breed mosquitoes, snakes, danger

July 31, 2012 3:45:20 PM PDT
It is a problem many homeowners face: living next door to a pool that is not being maintained.

Besides mosquitoes, the pools can also be a breeding ground for snakes and pose a drowning danger. So what can you do about it?

Mike Lindsey has seen the home next to his deteriorate over the last few months. But what really has him upset is the condition of the swimming pool.

"Mosquitos, just the fact that it is nasty," Lindsey said.

Lindsey says with the gate ripped down and the pool so cloudy, it hides the bottom. He says this is a safety issue.

"Small kids live there," he said. "My neighbor on the other side has small grandchildren."

Fixing the problem is not easy. The house is owned by a bank. Lindsey says after calling the city of Houston, an inspector came out and started the process of getting the pool up to code.

"They have to get the finance company -- the people who hold the note on this -- to come in here and cover that pool. They put up an entry-proof barrier," Lindsey said.

City officials say complaints about pools go up in the summer time. However, when pools sit on abandoned lots, the city can take steps to make them safe.

"This is where they actually could put a lien on the property, get a hearing with the owner -- or the bank in this case -- and give them a chance to abate it. If we do put a lien, that means the city went in and did a temporary abatement," said Naomi Macias with the city of Houston's Department of Health and Human Services.

Macias says in cases where properties are bank owned, the financial institutions generally respond quickly after a complaint has been filed. But the legal process involved in getting a pool fixed can take months.

Lindsey hopes it won't be that long before the neighboring pool is no longer a problem.

A couple of things to keep in mind: We are told mosquitoes that breed West Nile virus lay eggs in the sewer system and not necessarily pools; and the city says the bigger issues are snakes and the possibility of children falling into the pools.

You can report a pool problem by calling 311, and you can remain anonymous. Remember it takes weeks before the city can act, so report it sooner rather than later.

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