Environmental Health

Chesapeake Health District’s Division of Environmental Health is dedicated to protecting the public and environment through accountability to our community by providing educational outreach and ensuring regulated programs are maintaining compliance.  The Environmental Health Services aims to protect, promote, and sustain population health through community presence, educational outreach, and accountability to all stakeholders. Services include food establishments, campgrounds, summer camps, massage establishments, tattoo/body piercing establishments, tourist establishments, recreational waters, marina program, private wells, onsite sewage systems, rabies control program, and environmental complaints.  For more information about our services, fees, processes, or other questions, please call (757) 382-8672.

Fee Charts for Environmental Health Services (Fees may change)

 Body Art (tattoo, body piercing) $1,200  
 Body Art Plan Review $200  
 Restaurants / Mobile Units $40  
 Restaurants / Mobile Units Plan Review $40  
 Temporary Food (calendar year) $40  
 Massage Therapy $40  
 Massage Therapy Plan Review $40  
 Hotel / Motel $40  
 Hotel / Motel Plan Review $40  
 Pools / Spas (seasonal) $50  
 Pools / Spas (year round) $75  
 Pools / Spas Plan Review $80  
 Certified Pool Operator (self-study course) $100  
 Certified Pool Operator (re-test) $20  
 Campgrounds $40  
 Campgrounds Plan Review $40  


 Certification letter with OSE/PE documentation,  < 1,000 gpd $320  
 Certification letter with OSE/PE documentation, > 1,000 gpd $1,400  
 Construction permit for onsite sewage system only,  < 1,000 gpd no OSE/PE documentation $425  
 Construction permit for onsite sewage system only,  < 1,000 gpd with OSE/PE documentation $225  
 Combined well and onsite sewage system construction permit,  < 1,000 gpd no OSE/PE documentation $725  
 Combined well and onsite sewage system construction permit,  1,000 gpd with OSE/PE documentation $525  
 Construction permit for onsite sewage system only, > 1,000 with OSE/PE documentation $1,400  
 Combined well and onsite sewage system construction permit, >1,000 with OSE/PE documentation $1,700  
 Private well construction or abandonment permit, with or without OSE/PE/Well Driller documentation $300  
 Closed-loop geothermal well system (one fee per well system) with or without OSE/PE/Well Driller documentation $300  
 Alternative discharge system inspection fee $75  
 Minor modification of an existing onsite sewage system with or without OSE/PE documentation $100  
 Appeal before the Review Board $135  
 Repair permit for an onsite sewage system,  < 1,000 gpd without OSE/PE documentation $425  
 Repair permit for an onsite sewage system,  < 1,000 gpd with OSE/PE documentation $225  
 Repair permit for an onsite sewage system, > 1,000 gpd with OSE/PE documentation $1,400  
 Voluntary upgrade for an onsite sewage system,  < 1,000 gpd with OSE/PE documentation $225  
 Voluntary upgrade for an onsite sewage system, > 1,000 gpd with OSE /PE documentation $1,400  
 Safe, adequate, and proper evaluation without OSE/PE/Installer/Operator documentation $150  
 Safe, adequate, and proper evaluation with OSE/PE/Installer/Operator documentation $100  

**Payments in the office will only be accepted during the hours between 8:30am – 3:45pm, Monday thru Friday.

Food Service Programs 

Inspection reports for all permitted food facilities in Virginia can be viewed at  My Health Department.

Food Establishments / Mobile Units

In order to obtain a permit, we must determine compliance with the  Virginia Food Regulations. To do so, we perform a review and approval process on specific documentation prior to a pre-opening inspection. These documents include: the permit and plan review applications, a copy of the proposed menu, a copy of the establishment’s Certified Food Managers certificate(s), a copy of the establishment’s business license, architectural or computer generated floor plans (to scale) of the establishment, equipment specifications, registration with the city’s Fats, Oils, and Greases (FOG) program for new establishments, and all associated fees. Please note that a Certificate of Occupancy is required for newly constructed or change of use establishments.  You must contact Development and Permits at 382-6018, if applicable.  For additional information, call 382-8672.

Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) Program

The City of Chesapeake’s Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) Program aims to reduce or eliminate illicit discharges into the city’s sanitary sewer system.   For more information on the program and registration process, call 382-3418.

Temporary Food Events

Permits are issued for food vendors operating at a single event or celebration, such as a fair, carnival, or festival, and are governed by the  Virginia Food Regulations. If the food is not prepared and handled in a sanitary manner, the public’s health may be at risk.  For additional information, call 382-8672. 

Foodborne Illness Investigation

Environmental Health Services responds to all reports of suspected foodborne illnesses implicating food sold or served in the City of Chesapeake. Signs and symptoms vary, but common symptoms include vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Most cases of foodborne illness last between 24-48 hours. Symptoms generally appear between 2 to 36 hours after eating the suspected food. Most cases are isolated events and not associated with large outbreaks; however, many times the health department hears about outbreaks involving groups attending the same function. For additional information on foodborne illnesses, visit the  CDC or  FDA websites. Our goals are to identify the foods responsible for the illness, collect accurate and complete information from the persons involved, collect samples of the suspected food, when possible and appropriate, identify possible contributing factors, and correct the improper food handling practices that may have contributed to the illness.

When reporting a suspected foodborne illness, the following information will be required: contact information, name and location of facility where suspected meal or food item was obtained, date and time meal consumed, onset of symptoms, description of symptoms, a 72 hour food history (to include all foods and beverages consumed in the 3 days prior to the first sign of illness), and the names and phone numbers of others that have become ill.  To file a complaint concerning a food related illness, visit  My Meal Detective  or call 382-8672.

Certified Food Manager / Food Handler Education

Online classes are available for Food Handlers, Certified Food Managers, and allergen awareness at  https://chesapeake.statefoodsafety.com. If you are having difficulties or have questions, please contact State Food Safety customer support at (801) 494-1416.


Annual and temporary campgrounds are inspected while in operation to ensure public safety according to  rules and regulations. Additional permits may be required for on-site food establishments, swimming pools and spas.

For further information, call 382-8672. 

Massage Therapy Establishment

In the City of Chesapeake, massage therapy establishments are required to be permitted each year and inspected on a regular basis. Massage therapy inspections are based on the  Code of Chesapeake.

 For further information, call 382-8672. 

Body Art Establishments

Body Art includes tattooing, permanent makeup and piercing. In the City of Chesapeake, body art establishments are required to be permitted each year and inspected on a regular basis. Body Art inspections are based on the  Code of Chesapeake.

 For further information, call 382-8672.

Tourist Establishments

Tourist Establishments include hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, summer camps and campgrounds. These facilities are inspected to determine compliance with health and safety laws, governed by Commonwealth of Virginia Rules and  Regulations, and to initiate enforcement procedures when necessary. Permits are issued annually for the lodging facility. Additional permits may be issued for on-site restaurants, continental breakfasts, swimming pools and spas.

 For further information, call 382-8672. 

Recreational Swimming Pools / Spas

All public pools are inspected while in operation to ensure bather safety according to rules and regulations. Environmental Health Specialists conduct tests on water samples and ensure pools are properly constructed and maintained.

We provide a self-study course for those individuals wanting to become a Certified Pool Operator. The cost is $100 and includes the textbook, Chesapeake pool regulations, exam, and certification card.  ( Pool Class Certification Flyer)   For more information, call 382-8672.

Recreational swimming pool/spa regulations can be found in the  Code of Chesapeake and State regulations ( 12VAC5-460 /  12VAC5-462).

Marina Sanitation

The Commonwealth of Virginia has sanitary  regulations for marinas and boat moorings. The  regulations establish minimum requirements as to adequacy of sewerage facilities serving the boat slips, as well as the persons the marinas are designed to accommodate. The Division of Wastewater Engineering reviews the technical aspects of applications, plans and specifications and issue certificates of adequacy for sewerage facilities. The Marine Resources Commission is notified when a certificate is issued or denied. The local Office of Environmental Health inspects for compliance with the regulations to ensure proper sanitation and cleanliness of the facility and issue permits. Information about the Marina Program may be accessed at  /EnvironmentalHealth/Wastewater/MARINA/  or  call 382-8672 for more information.

 On-site Septic System Program

The Environmental Health Services oversees the design and construction of onsite sewage systems to ensure that the environment is protected. A permit may be required. The program includes:

  • Permit application review
  • System inspections
  • Property improvement requests (pools, decks, etc.)
  • Alternative system and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act system inspection requirements
  • Complaint investigation
  • Inspection and permitting of sewage handlers

For more information, please call 382-8672. 

Onsite FAQs

How do I obtain a Construction Permit?

      1. Locate a private sector provider to evaluate your property in which you wish to have an onsite sewage system.
      2. Fill out an application and pay the appropriate fee.
      3. Submit to the Chesapeake Health Department for review.
      4. If approved, you will receive your Construction Permit to install the appropriate onsite sewage system for the property on the application.

How do I locate private sector providers through the VDH website?

      1. Go to  www.vdh.virginia.gov
      2. On the left side of VDH main page under “Go To”, select  VDH Programs
      3. Scroll down to  Environmental Health Services and select  Onsite Sewage & Water
      4. Scroll to bottom and select  Citizen.
      5. Under “I want to” click on  Find a Private Sector Service Provider.
      6. Click on the service provider map at the bottom of the page.
      7. Select  the private sector provider you wish to find then use the map to obtain info on providers in this area.

How do I obtain an Operation Permit?

      1. Notarize and record on the deed at the Chesapeake Courthouse the appropriate documentation you received at the time of permit issuance. For example, an alternative or engineered system requires the operation and maintenance document be notarized and recorded on the property deed.
      2. The onsite evaluator or professional engineer chosen to evaluate the property will need to submit a completion statement, as built, and an inspection report.
      3. The licensed installer of the onsite sewage system will need to submit a completion statement.
      4. Upon receipt of all documents listed above, the Chesapeake Health Department will perform a final inspection of the system and  issue an Operation Permit within five business days as long as no corrections are required

Private Wells

The Environmental Health Services reviews and issues permits for proposed site of private wells.  This ensures the wells are properly located at a safe distance from potential sources of contamination to protect the consumer and groundwater supply.  Types of wells include, but are not limited to drinking water, irrigation, geothermal, and industrial.  Additional requirements may be imposed if the proposed volume of water to be withdrawn exceeds 300,000 gallons per month.   For more information, please call 382-8672. 

Private Wells Links

  1. Have you recently had your well water tested and want to know what the results mean? If so, you’ve come to the right place. The Well Informed Virginia drinking water interpretation tool has been created to help private well owners and users in Virginia understand water test results in order to determine whether their family’s health may be at risk and, if so, available options for response.
  1. The Virginia Department of Health DOES NOT require activities in conjunction with the buying or selling of property with private wells.  However, during real estate transactions involving properties with private wells, questions often arise from buyers, sellers, and lenders.  In response, Office of Environmental Health Services is pleased to offer this FAQ sheet.

Rabies Control Program

Rabies is a preventable viral disease that is transmitted to people and other mammals through the bite of an infected animal. Though rare, people can get rabies if a rabid animal’s saliva or nerve tissue gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Rabies affects the brain and is considered fatal.

Most rabies cases in the U.S. occur in wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Raccoons are the most commonly reported rabid animal in Chesapeake, followed by foxes, cats, bats, and skunks in that order. Animal rabies surveillance in Chesapeake began in 1988.

Human exposure, defined as a bite or scratch by a wild or domestic animals, must be reported. Exposures of domestic animals to wild animals must also be reported.

How to prevent the spread of rabies

Rabies is usually transmitted to pets from wildlife. The best way to protect your pet from rabies is to get them vaccinated and keep them away from wild animals.

All dogs and cats within city limits are required to have up-to-date vaccinations against rabies per the  Code of Chesapeake. Even indoor dogs and cats are at risk if they escape outside, or if a rabid bat enters your home. Puppies and kittens should get their first rabies vaccination by 4 months of age. Re-vaccination is required no later than one year after the primary vaccination and every 3 years thereafter.

If a human has been exposed

You may have been exposed to rabies if you were:

  • Bitten by a type of animal that is known to transmit rabies virus and the animal cannot be tested. In the City of Chesapeake, this includes raccoons, foxes and bats. In other areas of the U.S., it includes skunks, coyotes and mongooses.
  • Bitten by any animal that tests positive for rabies.
  • Bitten by an animal suspected of being rabid but cannot be tested.
  • Bitten by a dog, cat or ferret that is unavailable for testing or a 10-day observation period.
  • In contact with a bat, or found a bat in the room of a previously unattended child, or woke up to find a bat in the room.

Petting a rabid animal, or having contact with the blood, urine or feces of a rabid animal, is not considered an exposure.

Rabbits and small rodents, including squirrels, hamsters, mice and rats, are not normally found to be infected with rabies, nor have there been any human rabies cases associated with them. Bites by these animals are usually not considered a rabies risk, unless the animal was showing signs of rabies.  

If you think you have been exposed to rabies, follow these steps: 

  1. Immediately wash the wound with soap and water and continue irrigating the wound for 10 to 15 minutes. This will help kill and remove any virus that may have entered the wound.
  1. If the exposure was from a dog or cat, try to get the pet owner’s name, address and phone   number or get information of any person that may be able to identify the animal.
  1. Report the incident to the Environmental Health office at 382-8672 or to your health care provider. This will assist the Health Department in contacting the pet owner.
  1. If it is a stray or wild animal, call  Police Department non-emergency dispatch at 382-6161, to report the bite and find out if the animal can be captured and tested for rabies.
  1. If you believe, you were exposed to a bat found in your home, close windows and doors so it cannot escape until it can be captured.
  1. Post exposure prophylaxis is recommended when your health care provider confirms an exposure and the suspected animal cannot be confined for observation, tested, or if the test result is positive.

It can be difficult to tell if a rabies exposure occurred. You should tell your health care provider about any injury from an animal or exposure to a bat. 

Animal observation

If a healthy dog or cat has bitten you and you are able to provide the owner’s information to your health care provider or to the Health Department, the animal’s owner will be directed to watch it for 10 days at home, called a confinement period. The Health Department will be in contact with the pet owner to see if the animal remains healthy at the end of the observation period.

If the biting animal is still alive and healthy after this period, you do not need to get a rabies vaccine. If the animal develops signs of rabies during this period, the Health Department will instruct the owner to immediately have the animal examined by a licensed veterinarian. The veterinarian will report their finding to the Health Department and a determination will be made whether rabies testing is required. In order to conduct this test, the animal must be sacrificed.

If the biting animal cannot be found or it tests positive for rabies, the victim of the exposure will be advised to receive post exposure rabies prophylaxis treatment.

If the animal is a stray domestic animal, call the Police Department non-emergency dispatch at 382-6161, so the animal can be captured and observed at a shelter.

Do not attempt to capture a wild animal. Contact the Police Department non-emergency dispatch at 382-6161 if you find an injured or deceased wild animal in your yard. 

If your pet has been exposed

Any dog or cat that may have been exposed to a rabid animal should be reported to Chesapeake Animal Services. The Health Department will work with the pet owner and their veterinarian to determine appropriate follow-up.

Dogs and cats whose rabies vaccinations are not current, and pets with bite wounds of unknown origin, will be managed on a case-by-case basis.

Dogs and cats that are current with their rabies vaccination should immediately receive a booster shot. They must also be confined and observed for 45 days in the owner’s home. 

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

The  Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located § 2.2-3700 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees. Please use our form ( FOIA Blank Form ) to assist us in filing your request. A fee may be charged. For additional information, please email  ChdEnvHlth@vdh.virginia.govcall (757) 382-8672, or visit the Virginia Department of Health’s main FOIA webpage at  https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/commissioner/administration/freedom-of-information-act/. 

Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Services of the  Lead Program include screening, education and environmental samples, medical and environmental case management. Because children from six months through six years of age are most susceptible to lead poisoning, the program focus is on working with physicians to provide blood lead screening for all children from six months to six years of age and in teaching contractors and property owners to make houses lead safe before children are poisoned. 

Additional Website References


Food Program

Onsite/Well Programs