Food For Thought

   Hello Again.

   Representatives from the Coconino County Envi- ronmental Health Department met with the Grand Canyon National Park Administrators and Tom Vail from GCRG on March 25 to discuss several proposed new programs which are of interest to river outfitters. One idea under consideration is a training program for River Guides which would be taught by Coconino County Environmental Health. This course, tailored for river guides, will include communicable diseases, proper handling of human waste, water treatment, and food sanitation. A certificate would be issued to everyone who passes the course, which would be offered at various times and locations throughout the year. Final determination regarding who would be required to take the course or where/when the training would be offered has not been made. I encourage river guides to send me your comments concerning the best times and places.

   After evaluating the possible alternatives, it has been determined that the best format for inspecting commercial operations is the “ride-along” method. This method is considered preferable to “spot” inspections because it provides a greater opportunity for communication and discussion. Initially, inspections will be performed by me and possibly one or two others. On these trips we will work with you to identify health hazards that may endanger you or your passengers. We see this as a mutual learning process, so please give us the benefit of your experience and knowledge and feel free to voice your concerns. If all goes well, I hope to make the first trip around May 24.

   The Park Service has agreed to allow commercial river operations to utilize alternative methods for the disposal of human excreta in lieu of the SCAT machine at Meadview, provided that the Coconino County Environmental Health Department has reviewed and approved the proposed alternative. Interested commercial outfitters should submit a written outline describing how human excreta will be handled (including sanitizing agents and protective wear to be used), transported, and disposed of, as well as toilet cleaning and sanitizing procedures.

   If the SCAT machine is used, please have a sanitizing agent and protective clothing available, since the machine does not disinfect during or after the washing of portable toilets. Your chances of contracting Hepatitis “A” or other parasites increases significantly when you handle fecally-contaminated surfaces.

   Once again, I want to say “thanks” to all of you who have provided advice and support as we struggle to create appropriate health programs for river outfitters. We’re seeing real progress, and it is due in no small part to your efforts.

Marlene Gaither
Environmental Health
2500 N. Fort Valley Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86004