Westport Board of Health initiates regular column: Westport Health Notes

Posted 6/8/19

Welcome to Westport Health Notes, a new monthly column from the Westport Board of Health (BOH). The goal is to share information with our community about local issues and projects, public health …

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Westport Board of Health initiates regular column: Westport Health Notes

Posted

Welcome to Westport Health Notes, a new monthly column from the Westport Board of Health (BOH). The goal is to share information with our community about local issues and projects, public health alerts, and even fun facts about the A to Z scope of responsibility that local boards of health manage.

In fact, the Westport Board of Health is a veritable beehive of activity. From tattoo artists to rabid raccoons, flu pandemic preparedness to illegal dumping, drinking water contamination to septic system failures and more, it’s all in a day’s work here. In Westport, like Boards of Health in every community across the state, we enforce state sanitary, environmental, housing, and health codes. Our job includes:

• Protecting Westport residents from communicable diseases

• Ensuring safe drinking water: private wells and groundwater

• Overseeing proper sewage and septic installations and repairs

• Licensing and inspecting restaurants and other food establishments

• Investigating resident complaints about housing, garbage, food poisoning, illegal dumping and more

• Ensuring safe and sanitary summer camps, campgrounds and mobile home parks

• Safely operating the Westport Transfer Station and recycling center

• Coordinating public health aspects of emergency response

Yet, that is not all – the Westport BOH also has a wide array of other responsibilities, including regulating no-smoking areas, inspecting tenant farms, issuing port-a-john and dumpster permits, and producing health reports. The Board of Health also grants burial permits. Did you know that home and ‘green’ burials are allowed in Massachusetts? In fact, the state Dept. of Environmental Protection has published extensive guidance for families and for local Boards of Health on the topic. In such cases, families must get prior written approval from both the BOH and the Board of Selectmen.

In future columns we’ll cover some of the local projects that board members are working on, including developing a regulation on keeping of animals, planning a hazardous waste collection day (subject to funding) and addressing the Westport River’s nitrogen pollution problem.

If you have questions you’d like answered or suggestions for future topics, please email the BOH at health@westport-ma.gov.

Here in Westport, the latest buzz is about the recent spate of rabid raccoons in the Fallon Drive, as well as Sodom Road/Amory Pettey Way and Adamsville Road/Stony Brook Court areas. More details and general advice about rabies can be found on the Board of Health page on the town website (https://www.westport-ma.com/board-health)

On the brighter side (literally!), the Westport Board of Health is also pleased to announce that the installation of a solar array on top of the closed portion of the landfill on Hix Bridge Road is proceeding smoothly. Ameresco, which has a wide range of experience with landfill solar projects, is constructing and will maintain the 600 KW facility. The output will be sold to Eversource and the town will receive an annual fee of $16,000 for use of the land. The public is invited to a ground breaking and dedication ceremony for the solar array project at 4 p.m. on June 11. 

Submitted by Tanja Ryden, board member

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