Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Unexpected consequences of the housing collapse - West Nile disease

From the Chartered Accountants Journal, Nov 2008:

"The home repossessions occurring in Southern California due to the sub-prime mortgage debacle have given rise to a health hazard. Many of these homes have swimming pools still filled with water, now stagnant, and in the summer months they provided breeding grounds for mosquitoes. As a result the incidence of West Nile disease has jumped 50%.

The problem is that the vector control districts responsible for spraying are short of funds for this responsibility as property values have fallen and the resultant aggregate $ value of assessed taxes has also fallen. Taxes assessed on the repossessed homes are often not paid and this has also negatively impacted vector district budgets.

As winter approaches this year's problem will abate but the challenge will be the long hot days of 2009."

I suspect we're going to see more problems like this during this recession, including some in NZ. There are two basic indicators of civilization - the delivery of clean drinking water to the citizens, and the removal of sewage. If you want to know just how stressed a particular city or society is, start keeping an eye out for stories about those problems showing up locally or nationally.

No comments: