A Four Corners restaurant might have to close because of concerns about its septic system.

The Korner Klub was denied a restaurant license because it doesn't have a permit for its public wastewater system, the Gallatin City-County Health Board decided Friday.

No current records for the wastewater system exist in the health department's files or at the state Department of Environmental Quality, officials said.

But Korner Klub owner Jerry Ritter said a health officer gave him a wastewater permit in 1985. He said it was lost within county records.

"I don't keep records for 25 years; that's the county's job," Ritter said.

Health officer Matt Kelley wrote Ritter in February, stating that the health department wouldn't renew the Korner Klub's restaurant license until Ritter showed documents validating the septic system.

The rejection stems from a health crisis in 2010 at Camp Fire Lodge on Hebgen Lake, officials said. About 90 people were hospitalized after the wastewater system failed and contaminated drinking water.

The incident was a wake-up call for health officials, Kelley said, and health officials sought ways to prevent similar outbreaks.

The department identified up to 50 places, including the Korner Klub, that could have wastewater issues, officials said.

Ritter has owned the restaurant since 1975. He said it burned to the ground in 1984. He upgraded the septic system in 1985 after rebuilding.

The county has few records on the system other than a permit from 1969 and a hand-drawn map of the 1985 system, health officials said.

Ritter said he drew the map at the request of former health officer Emory Nelson. He said Nelson approved the system.

"I believe I have a permit," Ritter said. "I think the county hasn't produced it. I depended on (Nelson) to do what he had to do."

People who spoke Friday said record keeping isn't an exact science. They said paperwork can get lost.

Ritter and his attorney, Art Wittich, said the system is working "perfectly" and that no complaints have been filed against the system. Ritter said he inspects the system each fall.

"I'm very proactive," he said. "I built it oversize. If the system fails I'm out of business."

Health board members said they didn't want to see Ritter shut down, but they said they have to make changes in how wastewater is handled in light of the Hebgen Lake incident.

"There was no emergency at Camp Fire Lodge," board member Gretchen Rupp said. "One day there wasn't. One day there was."

Board members said they were hopeful for a solution such as the Korner Klub joining the Four Corners Water and Sewer District.

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