Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Rain, heat bring odor, other worries to area

Smell likely from rotting vegetation, not a health hazard, sanitarian says


People smelling an unusual odor in this area similar to what people smell in smog-socked areas shouldn’t have to worry about that, but the heavy rain, and heat, are leading local officials to warn of other concerns.

A smog-like odor people may detect, especially on cool mornings, has nothing to do with industry-produced hydrocarbons, but a byproduct of the deluge of rain in May and early June: rotting vegetation.

Hill County Sanitarian Clay Vincent said this morning that the 11 inches of precipitation Havre received by the end of June covered vegetation, which starts rotting and dissolving in the water.

He said a source of odor is likely from the water behind Bullhook Dam south of Havre — a lake has formed there, and the dissolved vegetation has turned it brown, Vincent said.

When that water is released to run through Bullhook Creek into the Milk River, it will cause odors, he said.

He said the rotting vegetation isn’t really a health concern.

“It dissolves in the water. It wouldn’t be good to drink,” he said, adding that “there are good things about having 11 inches of rain, but there are other things that are not so good.”

Vincent said one of the not-so-good things is mosquitoes. Another is floodwaters.

“They contain every kind of bad stuff in the world,” he said. “We try to keep people out.”

As far as disease from mosquitoes, Vincent said it is unlikely one of the main concerns — West Nile virus — would be out this early. The Culex mosquito that transmits the virus generally comes out later in the season.

Hill County Mosquito District Supervisor Terry Turner a week ago said his district is working to reduce mosquitoes, including using pellets to keep larvae from maturing and spraying to kill mosquitoes when able, but asked people to help.

He said he has small containers of the larvae inhibitor people can shake into standing water, and that people can help by making sure they don’t have standing water on their property and by changing pet drinking water regularly.

He also said people should protect themselves with approved repellant like DEET and by wearing long sleeves and long shirts.

Vincent said people have been making reports of finding birds — a sign of West Nile — but added that birds can die from a variety of reasons, especially in the type of weather the area has seen in the last few months.

People still should be cautious, he added, with problems including ticks carrying lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever still around.

He said another issue people should be careful of is picnic food — “If it’s hot out you can’t leave stuff out there or you run the risk of food-borne illness,” Vincent said.


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