The long arm of the law is going to be swatting at the mosquito problem that is expected to bring back the deadly West Nile virus.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced Friday that his office and the county Environmental Services Department will target people who allow their properties and stagnant swimming pools to become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which can carry the virus.
"These people will be held accountable," Thomas said.
Six county investigators will follow up on complaints about pools and other standing water, Thomas said.
Thomas said investigators will not enter private property without consent or a search warrant, and warrants will be sought only in extreme cases.
If the investigator finds stagnant water, the property owner will be warned and given 48 hours to clean it up.
Property owners who fail to clean up the water can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail, $500 in fines for individuals and $2,000 for businesses, Thomas said.
Last year there was a record of 391 cases and 14 deaths attributed to West Nile virus in Arizona, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thomas said people whose pools are dirty or developed algae need not worry, just those who have pools that have become stagnant.
County officials say residents should:
• Maintain, chemically treat and properly circulate swimming pools.
• Remove stagnant water from gutters, pet bowls and low areas in yards.
• Check property for stagnant pools of water.
• Use mosquito repellent.