On July 1, 1991 the Department of Environmental Quality was officially inaugurated. In the enabling legislation creating the Department, there was also requirement that the Department “coordinate implementation of environmental programs to maximize efficient use of resources by developing, with local health departments, a Comprehensive Environmental Service Delivery Plan” that recognizes and delineates the responsibilities of the department and each local health department using federal, state and local authority, responsibilities, and resources and providing for delegation of authority and pass through of funding. [19-1-201(1)(c)(d).]
- In March of 1990, representatives of what was then the Division of Environmental Health, met with representatives of each of the local health departments to discuss goals and objectives and Division planning activities. It was jointly determined that there would be benefit to evaluating the delivery of environmental services in the state and the roles that the Federal, State, and Local government agencies played in the delivery of these services. A pilot project was initiated to evaluate the delivery of environmental services in one rural (the Southwest Utah District Health Department) and one urban (Utah County) health department.
- One of the stated conclusions of that project was that “the perennial problem of funding remains a major concern for the Division of Environmental Health and the Southwest District Health Department. For some programs funding just to continue a minimum level of service is an ongoing challenge. For almost every program, it can be argued that increasing work intensity and/or program expansion would improve the delivery of the service. To achieve these kinds of improvement will obviously require additional resources or the reallocation of resources. The discussion groups did not identify where resources ought to come from. There was agreement that additional resources are not solely the responsibility of the state. Each level of government must look at its responsibility for funding and meeting the resource needs for the provision of environmental services within its jurisdiction.” (Delivery of Environmental Health Services In Rural Utah, 1991, p.46.)
- The Environmental Service Delivery Plan was developed cooperatively in 1991 with functional descriptions of the Department of Environmental Quality and all twelve local health departments. The environmental service planning workgroup consisted of Brent Bradford and Bruce Slater from DEQ, and Dr. Joseph Miner, Phil Wright, and Joel Hoyt from the local health departments. Drafts of the plan were distributed and reviewed by all the health officers and environmental directors as well as DEQ division directors.
- During this period of time, the Department of Environmental Quality met with each local health department in two day meetings. Each Division of DEQ met individually with the health officer, the environmental director and with the environmental health staff of each LHD. Environmental issues were identified and discussed. Program functions were discussed and roles and responsibilities identified. A Roles and Responsibilities matrix was developed (see below), identifying each DEQ environmental program, and LHD activity level and involvement in that program. That matrix is currently being updated.
- The matrix showed at that time that for many of the LHDs, the bulk of the activity involved providing information and referral to DEQ. There was considerable combined LHD/DEQ work, showing that each agency had a role and responsibility regardless of source of funding. In relatively few program areas was funding provided by DEQ through contract provision. The engaging of the LHD in the program was seen as one of inherent responsibility in having an environmental agency and not as one being purchased by the state as contractor.
- In some instances, LHDs identified program functions where additional activity could or would be provided only if additional funding or resources were made available.
- In FY 1992 $300,000 was appropriated from existing funds as pass through for LHD environmental programs from the newly created DEQ on mental programs.
- The attached spreadsheet shows the history of the funding.
- The approach continues to be one of general cooperation between agencies. The Environmental Service Delivery Plan has served as the basis for functional program description, and the accompanying matrix the basis for activity level. While the level of funding has continued to be a problem, the annual planning, contracting, and reporting process has been streamlined electronically, with the intent of burden reduction. Contracts with level funding have, in most instances, required only date changes. Funds have been distributed in grant fashion and prepaid, with monthly expenditure reports eliminated. While certain periodic program reports are required, much of the reporting has been reduced to an annual planning report of work accomplished. In FY2008, a change was made to a three-year contract, further streamlining the process.
If you have questions, comments, or require more information, contact the DEQ Public Affairs Office (801) 536-4400