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ENFORCEMENT JURISDICTION

The Fort Bend County Environmental Health Department does not have jurisdiction nor inner local agreements in the following cities’ limits: Arcola, City of Meadows Place, Houston, Katy, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City, Stafford, Sugar Land, Thompsons.

Currently, The Fort Bend County Environmental Health Department has inner local agreements with the following city for the services of:

On Site Sewage Facility (OSSF)

  • City of Fairchilds
  • City of Fulshear
  • City of Simonton
  • City of Weston Lakes
  • Village of Pleak

Food Service

  • City of Beasley
  • City of Fairchilds
  • City of Fulshear
  • City of Kendleton
  • City of Needville
  • City of Orchard
  • City of Weston Lakes
  • City of Simonton
  • Village of Pleak

The Environmental Health Department is the local agency designated to enforce specific laws outlined in the Texas Health and Safety Code.

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FOOD SERVICE / GENERAL SANITATION PROGRAM

The Environmental Health Department is the local agency designated to enforce the law and rules under Chapters 437, 341 and 343 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, Texas Food Establishment Rules (T.F.E.R.), and Local Orders approved by Commissioners Court. The objective of this program is to prevent food borne illness and associated health hazards by regulating the location, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of Retail Food Service Establishments.

Areas of Responsibility

  1. Routine inspection and permitting of Retail Food Establishments which includes; Food Service establishments; Mobile Food Vendors, Retail Food Stores, Schools, Daycares, Restaurants or Temporary Food Operations.
  2. Compliance Inspections of Food Service Facilities.
  3. Food Borne Illness Complaints / Investigations of Food Service facilities.
  4. Food Handlers / Food Safety Course - A 4 Hour Food Safety /Food Handlers course was developed in the beginning of 2001. Designed as basic food safety education for food service owners/operators and their employees. These courses are held after working hours to provide a convenient time for students, and are offered once a quarter for $20.00 per person. The courses have also been utilized as an enforcement/ requirement for those operators having failing scores, compliance or safe food handling issues.
  5. Requested inspections for Daycares, Group Homes, etc.
  6. General Nuisance Complaint Investigations.

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FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS

A plan review must be conducted prior to the start of any construction of a new food establishment. A change of ownership inspection must be performed prior to operating an existing food establishment. A permit must be obtained to operate a food establishment. The following list contains all of the documents contained in a complete Food Establishment Packet.

Click on each document and print:

  1. Opening a Food Service Establishment in Fort Bend County [PDF]
    This document lists the procedures that should be followed when opening or changing ownership of a restaurant. This document also includes helpful phone numbers and Guidelines for Food Establishment Operators.
  2. Application for Food Service Establishment [PDF]
    As discussed in "Opening a Food Service Establishment", this application form, along with other required documentation must be completed and submitted to our office for approval.
  3. Permit Description of Operation Form [PDF]
    Complete and sign
  4. Risk Assessment Form [PDF]
    Complete and sign
  5. Plan Review Information Sheet [PDF]
    Complete with contact information
  6. Water Utility Service Agreement [PDF]
  7. Fee Schedule [PDF]

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TEMPORARY FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS

A permit is required to operate a Temporary Food Booth. The following list contains all of the documents contained in a complete Temporary Food Establishment Packet. Click on each document and print:

  1. Temporary Food Service Requirements [PDF]
    This document discusses the requirements that must be followed to maintain a temporary food service permit.
  2. Application For Temporary Food Event [PDF]
    This application form and the required fee must be submitted to our office for approval
  3. Temporary Food Establishment Checklist [PDF]
  4. Sample Layout of a Temporary Food Establishment [PDF]

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MOBILE FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS

Taco TruckA permit is required to operate a Mobile Food Establishment. The following list contains all of the documents contained in a complete Mobile Food Establishment Packet. Click on each document and print:

  1. Procedures for Obtaining a Food Service Permit for a Mobile Unit [PDF]
    Procedimientos Para Obtener un Permiso de Servico de Alimentos Unidad Movil [PDF]
  2. Application for a Mobile Vendor Permit [PDF]
  3. Unrestricted Mobile Unit Sample [PDF]
  4. Water Distribution Layout [PDF]

If you have any questions about acquiring permits for a food service establishment, please feel free to contact us. To view other available documents and forms, visit our forms library.

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ACCREDITED FOOD MANAGERS / FOOD HANDLERS COURSES

The Fort Bend County Office of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Cooperative Extension Program offers accredited Food Managers Certification and accredited Food Handler courses. The Food Manager Certification Program will teach managers about Food Safety & Sanitation, Food Flow & HACCP, and Managing the Operation. Upon passing the ServSafe certification examination, you will fulfill state requirements for Certified Food Manager status.

For more information about the courses, visit http://fortbend.agrilife.org/fcs/food-handlers-class/ ; http://fortbend.agrilife.org/family-consumer-sciences/  or contact the FCS department in Fort Bend County at 281-342-3034, ext. 7024.

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WHY ARE FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS INSPECTED?

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 76 million Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year. It is also estimated that about 5 thousand deaths occur annually as a direct result of these illnesses. This alone, as well as the billions of dollars these illnesses cost the consumers and the industry each year, makes continuous improvement in the areas of food safety and sanitation a goal shared jointly by both the food industries and those with responsibility for regulatory enforcement.

Inspections measure a food establishment’s compliance with the Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER), that are in effect throughout the state of Texas. TFER is written to minimize the possibility of a food borne illness in an establishment offering food to the public.

The frequency with which food establishment inspections are conducted is based on a risk analysis for each establishment. On an average most establishments receive routine, unannounced inspections at least two times per year.

A thorough inspection gives a report of how the establishment is doing on a particular day; however, it would not be appropriate to make generalizations about an establishment based on one inspection or on a particular day. Additionally, complaints are investigated and evaluated on an individual basis.

Inspections focus on three areas:

  • Food temperature and HACCP plan requirements are important because time and temperature are the two factors that influence bacterial growth in foods. Inspectors monitor cooking, cooling, holding, and reheating procedures used on foods. Violations of this nature require immediate corrective action.
  • Personnel, handling, and source requirements are items that indirectly affect bacterial contamination of foods. Inspectors monitor good hygienic practices used by food employees, including hand washing, employee eating and the use of hair restraints. Food contact surfaces of equipment and utensils shall be cleaned and sanitized. Inspectors verify that food is in sound condition, properly stored and handled, obtained from an approved manufacturer and is free of pests or other contaminates.
  • Facility and equipment requirements. Simply put, inspectors make sure the establishments have good working equipment and a safe structure to produce and serve food to the public. The focus is on the physical facility: floors, walls, ceilings, and properly functioning equipment. Inspectors verify that hot and cold water, under pressure, are available at dishwashing sinks, dish machines and hand sinks; soap and paper towels for hand washing are provided, accurately calibrated thermometers are provided to check food and refrigeration temperatures, and surfaces of equipment and utensils are clean, sanitized and in good repair.

If a food establishment has critical violations that cannot be resolved while the health officer is conducting an inspection, Follow Up or Re-Inspection(s) must be conducted.

When you visit your favorite food establishment that is inspected by the Fort Bend Environmental Health Department, a copy of the most recent report must be posted.

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ON SITE SEWAGE FACILITY (OSSF) PROGRAM

The OSSF program is operated by the Environmental Health Department. The goal of the OSSF program is to prevent health hazards by regulating the location, design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of on-site sewage disposal systems that do not produce more than 5,000 gallons of waste each day.

Areas of Responsibility

  1. Application and Design/Planning Material Review and approval.
  2. Pre-Construction Inspections
  3. New Construction, Modification or Repair Inspections
  4. Final Approval / Permit Inspections
  5. Investigations, Enforcement and Abatement of OSSF Complaints

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ON SITE SEWAGE FACILITY PERMITS

On-Site SewageExisting On-Site Sewage Systems are Not “Grandfathered”.   All modifications, including the relocation of sprinklers or adding lines, to existing On-Site Sewage Facility requires a new permit and approval process.  The submission of a complete new design, permit application and the associated fee is required prior to modifications.

There are several steps when applying for an On-Site Sewage Facility Application Permit. In order to assist in the process, the Environmental Health Department has provided these step-by-step procedures.

ON SITE SEWAGE FACILITY PERMIT PACKET:

NOTE: AN APPROVED APPLICATION IS NOT THE APPROVAL TO INSTALL OR OPERATE THE PROPOSED ON-SITE SYSTEM. A PERMIT TO CONSTRUCT AND THE LICENCE TO OPERATE THE SYSTEM WILL BE ISSUED BY OUR OFFICE WHEN THE REQUIRED INSPECTIONS ARE PERFORMED.

  1. Obtain a copy of the survey or plat of the property.  This document should note all boundary easements and rights-of-way.  The property should contain at least one (1) acre for a well and septic system.  If the property is smaller than one acre and was platted or subdivided before 1988 a professional design must be obtained from a Professional Engineer or Registered Sanitarian.
  2. Determine proposed location of home, septic system, and water well.  Also, include any other improvements to be made to the property (pool, barn, etc.).  All existing or proposed structures must be identified.
  3. Obtain a soil and site evaluation of the property determining the soil suitability, set back requirements, and system selection. A Professional Engineer or State Registered Site Evaluator must conduct the site evaluation.
  4. After the site evaluation is completed, a Professional Engineer or Registered Sanitarian must design the septic system. The Design or Planning Material must be drawn “To Scale”..

    NOTE: A courtesy list of OSSF Installers and Designers can be provided upon request. To locate an Installer in your area you may also visit Texas Commission for Environmental Quality web site at http://www2.tceq.texas.gov/lic_dpa/index.cfm?fuseaction=licall.searchgp.

  5. Fill out your On-Site Sewage Facility Application in its entirety to including signature(s) and date, Please read carefully.
  6. Your Plan Review Package must include the following items:
    • Complete and sign the On-Site Sewage Facility Application [PDF]
    • Site Evaluation criteria.
    • Design / Planning Material –Drawn “To Scale.”
    • Copy of survey or plat of the property.
    • Copy of the recorded Affidavit to the Public. (For all Aerobic systems)
    • Copy of the Maintenance Contract signed by both parties. (For all Aerobic systems)
    • Copy of well log. (If applicable.)
    • Any request for an exception or variance to the rules shall be prepared by a Professional Engineer or Registered Sanitarian, notarized, and submitted with proposed application.
    • Permitting Fees
  7. An appointment to submit and review the application and design materials is required as plan reviews are conducted Tuesday and Thursdays ONLY, between 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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ADDITIONAL ON SITE SEWAGE FACILITY INFORMATION

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AEROBIC MAINTENANCE INFORMATION

Maintenance Contracts

Ongoing maintenance contracts are required for all systems that use secondary treatment.

As the property owner or homeowner, it is your responsibility to have a valid maintenance contract in force at all times.

New aerobic systems come with a two (2) year manufacturer service contract included in the purchase price. At the end of two years you may renew with your current provider or seek another licensed maintenance provider.

Subsequent contracts must be renewed 30 days prior to expiration of the current contract. Failure to hold or renew your contract can result in legal action against the property owner as allowed by law. These are statutory fines that are mandated by state law. A copy of the current contract is required to be on file with the permitting authority.

Maintenance contracts must be provided by a licensed maintenance provider. In addition the maintenance provider must be state registered.

The Fort Bend County Local Order for On-Site Sewage Facilities prohibits property owners/homeowners from performing this task on their own property, unless the property owner/homeowner is a certified maintenance provider for that aerobic treatment unit and holds the required State licenses. Fort Bend County requires a property owner to contract with a certified maintenance provider to perform the required maintenance testing and reporting every 4 months.

The Maintenance Contract shall, at a minimum:

  • List the items that are covered by the contract
  • Specify the time frame in which the maintenance company will visit the property in response to a complaint by the property owner regarding the operation of the system
  • Specify the name of the individual employed by the maintenance company who is certified by the manufacturer of the system
  • Identify the frequency of routine maintenance and the frequency of the required testing and reporting
  • Identify who is responsible for maintaining the disinfection unit

What’s not covered?

In all cases, read your contract thoroughly. Unless identified in your contract, the service provider is not responsible for:

  • Pumping or cleaning tanks
  • Maintaining the disinfection unit
  • Replacing broken spray heads
  • Damage from power failures
  • Homeowner misuse
  • Catastrophes beyond the control of the manufacturer

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WHAT DOES THE MAINTENANCE PROVIDER DO?

The maintenance provider is responsible for fulfilling the requirements of the maintenance contract.

At a minimum the maintenance provider shall:

  • Inspect components of the system and note whether or not every component is working during each site visit;
    • If an item is inoperative, the property owner must have the item repaired.
      Note: There may be a cost for the repairs if the item is not covered under warranty.
  • Install a maintenance tag, or some other form of identification, on the system at the beginning of each maintenance contract. This tag shall either be punched or marked at the time of each visit to provide the owner with a record of the visit.
  • Test the system as required for chlorine residual, Biochemical Oxygen Demand, and Total Suspended Solids.
  • Submit a report to the permitting authority and owner at least once every four months. All test results and maintenance reports shall be sent to the permitting authority within 14 days after the test is performed.
  • Respond to owner complaints.

Note: All establishments holding a Fort Bend County Food Establishment Permit and receiving secondary treatment shall be visited and maintained monthly by a certified maintenance provider. A chlorine residual or fecal coliform test shall be made at each site visit where disinfection is required. One BOD and TSS Grab Sample test shall be conducted per year

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Annual Maintenance Contract Renewal Fee

  • After expiration of the initial two (2) year maintenance contract, each on-site sewage facility (ATU or other system requiring routine maintenance) must submit a renewing contract with an Annual Maintenance Contract Renewal Fee.
  • Contracts will not be accepted without the renewal fee and must be paid at the time of submittal. Contracts for more than one year {Example: 2+} must pay the annual fee for each year of the contract.
  • The current OSSF permit number must be identified on all contracts.
  • Contracts and fee will not be accepted by fax or mail.
  • There are no credits, refunds or substitutions for this fee. Contracts that are cancelled will require a new contract and another fee to be paid at the time of submittal.
  • Any renewing contract without the fee will be denied and returned.

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What to Expect at a Typical Service Visit

The first service visit should be scheduled or arranged between the service provider and homeowner. This visit should include discussing issues, such as:

  • User's manual
  • Manufacturer's recommendations for the unit
  • The system design
  • A walk thorough of your system
  • I information about what to do in case of emergency, any special instructions, issuing keys, etc… For seasonal properties, homeowners will need to know how to shut the system down in the off-season and start it again when needed.
  • Types of disinfecting units used

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CHLORINE DISINFECTION

Wastewater that is sprayed onto the surface must first be disinfected to remove disease causing microorganisms. As the property owner/ homeowner, it is your responsibility to maintain chorine residual of at least 0.1 mg/l at all times of operation. Failure to maintain a chorine residual in your system can be a public health hazard and can result in legal action against the property owner as allowed by law.

The most common forms of disinfecting units for aerobic spray are Tablet Chlorination or Liquid Chlorination. If you are unsure of what type of chlorinator your system has, ask your installer or service provider.

Liquid ChlorineLIQUID CHLORINATION

  • Chlorine bleach can be purchased in several chlorine concentrations but, it is vital that you use a product that is labeled (registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) for disinfecting wastewater. Use only non-scented type Chlorine bleach
  • Make sure your chlorinator contains chlorine at all times of operation.
  • If you are unsure about your chlorinator, ask your installer or service provider to demonstrate how to check and refill your chlorinator

Chlorination process

 

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Aerobic Systems Do's and Don'ts

  • Maintain the contract service arrangement offered by the manufacturer after the initial two-year period has expired. It is extremely important that aerobic systems receive regular maintenance. The Law requires it.
  • Monitor and maintain chlorine in your disinfection unit at all times.
  • Call a service professional or your maintenance provider whenever you experience problems with your system, whenever the alarm is activated, or whenever there are any signs of system failure.
  • Use only licensed septic installers to conduct any repairs or modifications of your septic system. Always obtain a permit for any modification, expansion or alteration to your system.
  • Keep detailed records about your aerobic system, including a map of where it is, and general information, such as model name, capacity, state license, date installed, contract service agreement, records of service visits, and maintenance performed. Become familiar with how your own particular system operates, and the way it looks, sounds, and smells when it is working correctly. This way, you may be able to identify problems before they become serious and alert your service provider to anything unusual.
  • Conserve water to avoid overloading the system. Be sure to repair any leaky faucets or toilets.
  • Divert other sources of water, like roof drains, house footing drains, and sump pumps away from the aerobic system.
  • Keep your system accessible for inspections and pumping, yet protected from unauthorized entrance. If access to your system is locked, make sure that your service contractor has a key.

Don’ts

  • Do not tamper with or readjust your systems components.
  • Don't allow anyone to drive over or park on any part of the system.
  • Don't make or allow unauthorized repairs or changes to your aerobic system without obtaining the required permits.
  • Don't use your toilet or kitchen sink as a trash can by pouring harmful chemicals down the drain. Harsh chemicals can kill the beneficial bacteria that treat your wastewater.
  • Don't use a garbage disposal without checking with your local regulatory agency to make sure that your aerobic system can accommodate this additional waste.
  • Don't attempt to clean or perform maintenance on any sealed aerobic unit components.
  • NEVER use swimming pool chlorine in your Aerobic System.
  • Never build a food crop garden in contact with your septic disposal area.

Do Not Flush:

  • Coffee Grounds
  • Kitty Litter
  • Cigarette Butts
  • Dental Floss
  • Sanitary Napkins
  • Condoms
  • Fat, Grease, or Oil
  • Disposable Diapers
  • Tampons
  • Gauze
  • Paper Towels
  • Paints
  • Varnishes
  • Thinners
  • Waste Oils
  • Pesticides
  • Photographic Solutions
  • Bandages

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Warning Signs of Aerobic System Problems

  • Alarms or lights going off
  • Any changes in the system's normal operating sound
  • Any changes in the normal color of the wastewater in the aeration on chamber (for example if the color is grayish brown rather than chocolate brown this can sometimes indicate problems)
  • Excessive solids, foam, or scum in the unit
  • Plumbing backups
  • Sewage odors in the house or yard

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FINDING A MAINTENANCE PROVIDER

The maintenance company must be certified to maintain your particular brand of system. (Brand names are usually placed on the control box or inspection lid of your system).A Complimentary List of Certified Maintenance Providers (brand specific) can be mailed, faxed, or obtained at our office. Fort Bend County does not endorse or recommend any individual or company on this list, it is provided only as a courtesy to our citizens.

You can also visit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) web site for a list of Certified Maintenance Providers. The web address for the TCEQ is http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/

  • Under SITE NAVIGATION select PERMITS, LICENSES, & REGISTRATIONS.
  • Then select FIND LICENSING RECORDS, REGISTRATION RECORDS, EXAM RESULTS.
  • Next select FIND LICENSING, TRAINING, AND REGISTRATION RECORDS.
  • At the top of the page will be DOWNLOAD A LIST OF REGISTERED MAINTENANCE PROVIDERS IN YOUR AREA, select this link

The list of Approved, Registered Providers should appear. There should be a column for Maintenance Company, Maintenance Provider, and Manufacturer. Scroll down to Fort Bend.

Under the Manufacturer column find the BRAND of OSSF that was installed on your property. The company or individual that is Certified by that Manufacturer can provide maintenance on your OSSF.

If the BRAND of OSSF is not listed under Fort Bend County, you can SEARCH surrounding counties.

If any questions should arise while you search for a Maintenance Provider, feel free to call the Environmental Health Department, and we will assist you as best we can.

For more Information on Aerobics:

National Small Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC): The National Small Flows Clearinghouse (NSFC), which specializes in on-site technology, operation, maintenance, regulations, management, finance, and education, has a variety of free and low-cost products available. NSFC can be reached at (800) 624-8301.

NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation): NSF International is a private, nonprofit organization devoted to research, education, service, and training that tests and publishes standards for products relating to public health and the environment. For more information, you may contact NSF at (800) NSF-MARK.

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PERMITTING AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

Do you need to apply for a Development Permit?

The permitting and development program has grown out of the need to address the rapid growth and development throughout Fort Bend county over the past decade. Having a program dedicated to addressing needs of potential homeowners and developers has significantly improved our ability to address issues and concerns of County residents.

Areas of Responsibility

  1. Food Service Establishment (Pre-Construction) Blueprint / Plan Reviews / Approvals.
    • Pre-Opening Inspection of above
    • Final Inspection
  2. Subdivision Platting to OSSF and associated re-platting variance request.
  3. OSSF -Application and Design/Planning Material Review and approval.
  4. Infrastructure Plans

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SERVICES NOT PROVIDED

Currently, the major focus of the Environmental Health Department is public and consumer health. This field of service sometimes overlaps with other environmental issues or concerns from the public. However, the Environmental Health Department does not conduct the following services:

  • Mold complaints
  • Lead complaints
  • Environmental Land Assessments
  • Solid Waste / Land Field Site Approvals / Evaluations
  • Local M.U.D. Inspections / approvals
  • Swimming Pool Permitting
  • Air Quality
  • Fire and Safety Inspections
  • OSHA Inspections
  • Asbestos Inspections
  • Building Inspections (Residential or Commercial)
  • Water Well Inspections or approval (Residential or Commercial)
  • Home Loan Inspections
  • Sludge Sampling or Sludge Site Evaluations / Approval
  • Vector Control or Abatement

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office.

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Last updated: 5/30/2016 3:16:34 PM