Health Department's Authority Regarding Environmental Health Issues in the County


inspectionsThe environmental department of the Health Department regulates food service facilities like restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, school cafeterias, and any other facility that sells food to the public for profit. We inspect all licensed lodging facilities and licensed day cares. The on-site sewage program is also regulated in the county through the Health Department. We issue permits on new and replacement septic systems on properties of less than 3 acres and less than 3000 gallons per day. We also take water samples for regulated facilities that are on private wells and occasionally for citizens of the county under special circumstance.

The Health Department regulates licensed lodging facilities.   Licensed lodging facilities are motels, hotels, and bed and breakfasts that have 5 or more usable rooms. So there are many facilities out there that do not fit the criteria to be licensed. There are small facilities in the county that are not regulated by anyone because they fall below that 5 room minimum to be licensed.

I receive many calls throughout the year on a pretty regular basis about mold, bad repair, etc. on rental properties or calls wanting the Health Department to condemn a property because of unhealthy, or unsafe conditions. These issues are very important and public health is the main focus of the Health Department. This being said the Health Department is only capable of regulating programs that we have authority over granted from the state of Missouri.

The programs and rules that the state of Missouri grant the counties regulatory authority over are the same throughout the state. However, there are counties throughout the state that have created their own ordinances that allow them to create their own rules for their specific county. These rules can be stricter than the state rules but not lesser than the state rule. Most of the ordinance counties are in counties with large populations like St. Louis, Jefferson, Cape Girardeau, etc. I get a lot of calls about rental properties for example that doesn’t have working appliances or environmental problems such as mold and mildew growth from leaks or bad repair of the property. We have no regulatory authority over rental properties in Ste Genevieve County. Some ordinance counties and many municipalities do create rules within their counties to regulate rental properties, trash, trash burning, waste buildup, etc. These city municipalities can have these rules for their city and be in a non-ordinance county.

The Health Department also does not have authority over different kinds of trash build up. I occasionally get calls regarding things like a neighbor has a big pile of tires and mosquitos are everywhere, what can the Health Department do? The answer is nothing. We have no regulatory authority over trash. There are other agencies that can sometimes help on such issues. The Department of Natural Resources in Missouri can regulate tires for instance if the amount is large enough. I get calls regarding problems with animals and animal waste for instance. Again, the Health Department has no authority over issues with animals. The Missouri Department of agriculture regulates animal issues. The USDA regulates butchering facilities. However, if the facility has a retail counter selling individual portions of meats, lunchmeats, and other foods then the Health Department does regulate that portion of the facility.

And always, as a public health servant for Ste. Genevieve County, if citizens have any questions about any of these issues, even non regulated by us, we still try to give any assistance that we can regarding these problems that citizens encounter. I appreciate the opportunity to work with so many great people in the county

Bob W. Kluender, Environmental Public Health Specialist