Guilford County Health Director Merle Green had some bad news recently for the Guilford County Board of Commissioners: the Health Department has a big backlog of well and water system inspections, and it won’t be able to catch up and keep pace unless new inspector positions are added. In fact, she said, even then the Health Department won’t be able to completely keep pace with demand.
“We are way behind in our inspections and the state expects us to complete 100 percent of these inspections,” Green said.
The Health Department has seen nearly a 60 percent increase in groundwater programs and related programs over the last six years – with no additional staff.
According to Green, there are water and sewer systems in the northeast and northwest areas of Guilford County that are failing in some respect but aren’t being repaired because the department hasn’t gotten around to inspecting them.
She added that the problem exists in every section of the county despite the fact that the Health Department is conducting about 6,300 of these inspections a year.
Green said that, anytime a new building goes up, health inspectors must verify that the structure can get adequate water and sewer service.
Currently, the department is conducting just over 70 percent of the needed inspections each year. In order to address the backlog and meet future demand, she said, the Health Department is requesting that the Guilford County Board of Commissioners add two inspectors in the 2019-2020 fiscal budget that will be adopted later this month.
Green said that, in 2010, after the financial collapse brought a slowdown in construction, the department lost two positions.
“There was less building then, and the apartment buildings that we are seeing go up now were not going up then, so we eliminated two positions because we could,” the longtime county health director told the board. “We’re just trying to get back what we had.”