11 Leadership Institute (MEHPLI), modeled after the Center for Disease Control’s similar programs, is now regularly recognized around the state and nation for its excellence. The sanitary toilet program for agricultural workers and MEHPLI represent programming developed to address the needs of Monterey County. The Local Small Water Program is another example of a customized program, developed to meet the needs of locals. This program regulates water systems with as few as two to four connections, compared to other counties who may only regulate water systems with more than 15 connections. “Although regulating very small communities or businesses that have limited resources can have challenges, our Local Small Water Program has been considered a pro-active public health program by the State and community advocates, as information and standards for drinking water are made known to residents where otherwise they would not,” said Encarnacion. Most recently, Monterey County’s EHB tackled the shifting challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educating the public about social distancing and enforcing health orders became the daily need, while also assisting with wildfire recovery services that were simultaneously needed. Today the wide scope of the EHB, includes permitting and inspecting swimming pools and spas and ensuring vegetable packing plants have a plan for any accidental release of ammonia. The bureau oversees any health-regulated business, whether that is before its construction, during operation, or even after its closure, said Encarnacion. After 100 years, this bureau continues to meet the needs of its community, like building intentional health equity standards into its programs. Encarnacion described projects like translating services into multiple languages and adopting a “consultative approach” for low-income clients, instead of more common, fee-based enforcement, as examples. “Health equity for environmental health regulators is a fundamental shift for some of our programs where equal treatment of the law and fair business practice dictated much of our field practice,” said Encarnacion. “With health equity in mind, EHB intends to update our practices to ensure we provide investments to gain not only environmental health compliance but improved positive health outcomes for all.” From assisting in wildfire recovery to inspecting tattoo parlors, collecting and safely disposing of chemicals, batteries, and food, to protecting our water, air, and soil, Encarnacion describes the EHB as the “crucial” link to promoting sustainable and well communities. “Environmental health is an essential service of any comprehensive public health system. There is always something in the environment that, if not controlled or addressed by some type of authority, will continue to have a significant impact on people’s lives.” said Encarnacion. “We do this to protect the guests and residents of our county and promote healthier environments for all.” Our primary duty is to protect the health of the public, especially by ensuring people use the environment responsibly. – Ric Encarnacion, Bureau Chief and Director of Environmental Health 1970 1967 The Federal Air Quality Act gives California the ability to set stringent air quality rules 1970s Public health labs from the MCHD process everything from tuberculosis cultures to rabies samples. Most labs in California begin to close by the end of the decade, but Monterey County’s continues today 1970 April 22 – the first Earth Day