Western New Jersey

Hunterdon County Freeholders paying for black fly spraying along Delaware River

HUNTERDON COUNTY, Pa. - The Hunterdon County Freeholders will pay for their own black fly spraying along the Delaware River.

Freeholder John Lanza says the county has opted to use about $21,000 from an emergency fund to spray the county's approximately 40-mile stretch of riverbank.

The spraying used to be a joint effort between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with Pennsylvania doing the spraying and New Jersey paying for half, until Lanza says the NJDEP told local lawmakers there wasn't any more money available.

The NJDEP said it is working to resume participation next spring:

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has been working with Pennsylvania on black fly suppression efforts along the Delaware River since 1996 and, as agreed upon, made payments to the Pennsylvania DEP based on available funding.  The New Jersey DEP is working to resume participation next spring. 

"In the last few years, both states have gotten behind on funding. There was one point where PA wasn't funding the program at all and therefore neither was NJ, but the problem got so bad that PA started spraying again, however NJ was not paying its share," he said.

Lanza says the Freeholders became concerned swarms of black flies would turn away visitors to the county's Delaware River towns which rely on tourism dollars.

"When it's uncomfortable and people are being bit by black flies, they may choose not to come out, to enjoy our restaurants, take a walk along the path," said Mayor Brad Mhyre of Frenchtown, a borough that lies along the river.

Taghe Rainey, who oversees Hunterdon County's Mosquito and Vector Control Services, says the lack of funding from the state is likely a technical problem between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as the cost to spray varies from year to year due to river flow.

He says on average it costs about $500-$600,000 each fiscal year to spray the Delaware River from the Columbia Dam to Trenton.

Hunterdon County Freeholders plan to begin black fly spraying in August.

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