The Appalachian District Health Department, serving Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga Counties, would like to inform the community of delays with Environmental Health permits, specifically permits needed for water protection: septic and well permits.
The Appalachian District Health Department Board of Health and staff are working on resolving the delays and will work toward solutions to issue timely permits.
The reasons for the delays include:
- Unanticipated loss of experienced and authorized staff across the district, which makes it more difficult to shift existing staff across the counties
- Difficult to recruit experienced staff due to current demand of Registered Environmental Health Specialists (REHS) across North Carolina counties
- Seasonal increase of permits due to approaching winter
- Economy is improving, which leads to an increase in construction/building
- Recent and predicted wet weather conditions make soil and site evaluations difficult
The Appalachian District Health Department Board of Health is responding to the recruitment and retention issues of REHS staff with a pay scale adjustment and additional hourly rate for overtime to entice Appalachian District staff as well as REHS from other health departments to consider working after hours and weekends. “We want to commend our staff for their hard work and continued commitment while also let the public know that we remain committed to providing high quality, efficient service. By demonstrating our Board of Health’s support to our staff, we will build our recruitment and retention of maintaining a customer service-oriented team for the long term,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director.
A new environmental health staff member completes at least nine months of required state training, successful completion of the National Environmental Health exam in addition to graduation in Environmental Health or Earth Science based Bachelor’s Degree, prior to state authorization to evaluate and issue permits. In addition, if a REHS allows their registration to expire, for example with retirement, for two years, then they are required by the state to retake all of the initial training.
“We will be informing all our environmental health customers of potential delays, steps we’ve taken to improve our systems, and these additional steps we’re taking in addition to reminding them of multiple ways they can give us feedback in person, on our website, or direct contact with me,” said Lovette. The Board of Health will continue to monitor the current situation as these additional steps are taken to better meet customer needs