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Environmental Enforcement

Deryl Oates

Environmental Investigator

101 W Church St. Suite 105

Livingston, TX 77351

Phone: 936-327-6820 Ext 2

Fax: 936-327-6883

Email: deryl.oates@co.polk.tx.us

Mission Statement

The mission of the Polk County Office of Environmental Enforcement is to protect the public, consumer and environmental health of the people in Polk County. In accomplishing this mission, Environmental Health employees shall be at all times impartial and diligent. In the execution of their duties, they shall be guided by those constitutional and legal principles which are the foundation of the United States of America and the State of Texas.

The Polk County Office of Environmental Enforcement exists to protect the public and consumer health of the residents of Polk County through services that include the inspection and regulation of retail food service establishments, the regulation of on-site sewage disposal systems and enforcing  environmental crimes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What does "Litter" mean?

    A: Litter is defined in the section as: (A) decay-able waste from a public or private establishment, residence, or restaurant, including animal and vegetable waste material from a market or storage facility handling or storing produce or other food products, or the handling preparation, cooking, or consumption of food, but not including sewage, body wastes, or industrial by-products.

    Q: What is "Solid Waste"?

    A: Solid waste is defined in the section as Non-decay-able solid waste, except ashes, that consists of: (I) combustible waste material, including paper, rags, cartons, wood, excelsior, furniture, rubber, plastics, yard trimmings, leaves, or similar materials; (II) noncombustible waste material, including glass, crockery, tin or aluminum cans, metal furniture, and similar materials that do not burn at ordinary incinerator temperatures of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit or less; and (III) discarded or worn-out manufactured materials and machinery, including motor vehicles and parts of motor vehicles, tires, aircraft, farm implements, building or construction materials, appliances, and scrap metal.

    Q: What is "Lighted Material"

    A: The section describes lighted litter as: a match, cigarette, or cigar discarded onto open-space land, a private road or the right-of-way of a private road, a public highway or other public road or the right-of-way of a public highway or other public road, or a railroad right of way.

    Q: What does "Rubbish" mean?

    A: Rubbish means non-decay-able waste from a public or private establishment or residence.

    Q: What is "Refuse"?

    A: Refuse means garbage, rubbish, paper, and other decay-able or non-decay-able waste, including vegetable matter, animal, and fish carcasses.

    Q: What is considered "Weeds"?

    A: Weeds means all rank and uncultivated vegetable growth or matter that: (A) has grown to more than 36 inches in height; or (B) creates an unsanitary condition likely to attract or harbor mosquitoes, rodents, vermin, or other disease-carrying pests, regardless of the height of the weeds.

  • Q: Can I burn garbage?

    A: Texas Health and Safety Code 382.018 states: The commission by rule shall authorize outdoor burning of waste if the waste consists of: Trees, Brush, Grass, Leaves, Branch Trimmings, or other plant growth; 

    Q: What hours can I burn?

    A: You can burn 30 minutes after daylight and there must be no smoldering embers 30 minutes before dark.

    Q: How do I report someone burning garbage?

    A: You can contact this office by phone, fax, or the email address above. If the burning is happening while the office is closed you can contact the Polk County Sheriffs Office at 936-327-6810.

    Q: How do I know if there is a Burn Ban?

    A: If you live in an unincorporated part of Polk County please call the Polk County Office of Emergency Management at 936-327-6826 ext. 0, a recorded message will play stating if there is currently an active burn ban. Orders prohibiting outdoor burning can also be viewed on the Polk County website, and on the Emergency Management website at polkcountyoem.com

  • A: Texas Transportation Code Section 683 is defined as: a vehicle that is self-propelled and does not have lawfully attached to it: an unexpired license plate and a valid motor vehicle inspection certificate; or is wrecked, dismantled or partially dismantled, or discarded; or inoperable and has remained inoperable for more than thirty (30) consecutive days.
  • A: Texas Health and Safety Codes Section 365.012. Illegal Dumping; Discarding Lighted Materials; describes it as: a person commits an offense if the person disposes or allows or permits the disposal of litter or other solid waste at a place that is not an approved solid waste site, including a place on or within 300 feet of a public highway, on a right of way, on other public or private property, or into inland or coastal waters of the state.

  • Q: What is a public nuisance?

    A: Texas Health and Safety Codes Chapter 343.011 states: a person may not cause, permit, or allow a public nuisance under this section and describes them as;

    1. keeping, storing or accumulating refuse on a premises in a neighborhood unless the refuse is entirely contained in a closed receptacle;
    2. keeping, storing, or accumulating rubbish, including newspapers, abandoned vehicles, refrigerators, stoves, furniture, tires, and cans on premises in a neighborhood or within 300 feet of a public street for 10 days or more, unless the rubbish or object is completely enclosed in a building or is not visible from a public street;
    3. maintaining premises in a manner that creates an unsanitary condition likely to attract or harbor mosquitoes, rodents, vermin, or other disease-carrying pests;
    4. allowing weeds to grow on premises in a neighborhood if the weeds are located within 300 feet of another residence or commercial establishment;
    5. maintaining a building in a manner that is structurally unsafe or constitutes a hazard to safety, health, or public welfare because of inadequate maintenance, unsanitary conditions, dilapidation, obsolescence, disaster, damage, or abandonment or because it constitutes a fire hazard;
    6. maintaining on abandoned and unoccupied property in a neighborhood a swimming pool that is not protected with: (A) a fence that is at least four feet high and that has a latched and locked gate; and (B) a cover over over the entire swimming pool that cannot be removed by a child;
    7. maintaining on any property in a neighborhood in a county with a population of more than 1.1 million a swimming pool that is not protected with: (A) a fence that is at least four feet high and that has a latched and locked gate; and (B) a cover over over the entire swimming pool that cannot be removed by a child;
    8. maintaining a flea market in a manner that constitutes a fire hazard;
    9. discarding refuse or creating a hazardous visual obstruction on: (A) county-owned land; or (B) land or easements owned or held by a special district that has the commissioners court of the county as its governing body;
    10. discarding refuse on the smaller of: (A) the area that spans 20 feet on each side of a utility line; or (B) the actual span of the utility easement;
    11. filling or blocking a drainage easement, failing to maintain a drainage easement, maintaining a drainage easement in a manner that allows the easement to be clogged with debris, sediment, or vegetation, or violating an agreement with the county to improve or maintain a drainage easement;
    12. discarding refuse on property that is not authorized for that activity;
    13. surface discharge from an on-site sewage disposal system as defined by Section 366.002
  • Texas Health and Safety Codes Chapter 343.022 states: abatement procedures adopted by the commissioners court must be administered by a regularly salaried, full-time county employee. A person authorized by the person administering the abatement program may administer:

    1. the prohibition or control of access to the premises to prevent a violation of Section 343.011 (c) (1), (6), (9), or (10)
    2. the removal or demolition of the nuisance
    3. the abatement of a nuisance as described by section 343.011 (c) (12)

    Procedures require written notice be given to:

    1. the owner, lessee, occupant, agent, or person in charge of the premises; and
    2. the person responsible for causing a public nuisance on the premises when: (A) that person is not the owner, lessee, occupant, agent, or person in charge of the premises; and (B) the person responsible can be identified.

    The Notice must state:

    1. the specific condition that constitutes a nuisance
    2. that the person receiving the notice shall abate the nuisance before the (A) 31st day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has not previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises; or (B) 10th business day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises
    3. failure to abate the nuisance may result in: (A) abatement by the county; (B) assessment of costs to the person responsible for causing the nuisance when that person can be identified; and (C) a lien against the property on which the nuisance exists, if the person responsible for causing the nuisance has an interest in the property
    4. that the county may prohibit or control access to the premises to prevent a continued or future nuisance as described by Section 343.011 (c) (1), (6), (9), (10)
    5. that the person receiving notice is entitled to submit a written request for a hearing before the: A) 31st day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has not previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises; or (B) 10th business day after the date on which the notice is served, if the person has previously received a notice regarding a nuisance on the premises

    The notice must be given:

    1. by service in person or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested; or
    2. if personal service cannot be obtained or the address of the person to be notified is unknown, by posting a copy of the notice on the premises on which the nuisance exists and by publishing the notice in a newspaper with general circulation in the county two times within ten (10) consecutive days.

    Except as provided in Subsection (f) the abatement procedures must require a hearing before the county abates the nuisance if a hearing is requested. The hearing may be conducted before the commissioners court or any board, commission, or official designated by the commissioners court. The commissioners court may designate a board, commission, or official to conduct each hearing.

  • TCEQ - Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

    DSHS - Texas Department of Health & Human Services

    EPA - United States Environmental Protection Agency

    TELEA - Texas Environmental Law Enforcement Association

    NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    TPWD - Texas Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement

    Permits - Polk County Permit and OSSF information

    Polk County Nuisance Abatement Policy

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