Environmental Health Services Division
Environmental Health Programs ensures a safe and healthy environment for the residents of Cochise County, the Environmental Health Division provides many services to the general public and the regulated community. These services are summarized in the following programs:
- Food Safety (Establishments, Fixed Food Facilities, Mobile Food Units, Temporary Food Permit)
- Public Accommodations (Motel, Hotel, Lodging)
- Recreational Health (Pools/Spas)
- Septic Systems
- Vector Control (Surveillance for insects and animals that could pose a public health threat)
Investigations & Disclosures
Investigations will be conducted as quickly as possible, dependent on the health risk involved. Anonymous complaints will be investigated as time permits. Upon verification of the complaint, EHD will take all appropriate actions necessary to resolve the complaint.
By law, EHD is obligated to release the name (s) of the person (s) filing the complaint, provided a written request for this information is received. However, EHD will maintain the anonymity of the complainant until we are legally required to release that information.
Online Licensing, Permitting, and Complaint Submissions
In Cochise County, whether you're shopping at a supermarket, eating at an outdoor festival, dining in a restaurant, or enjoying free food at a public event, the law requires people selling or serving that food to do so in accordance with the Arizona Food Code to keep that food safe. Our food code was adopted from the Federal Food Code. Ensuring safe food for the citizens of Cochise County requires a reliable way to evaluate and practice food safety in producing, preparing, packaging, storing, and distribution. These final steps are important to bring that food to the table, especially when you eat in public, safely.
If you wish to open a restaurant, a bar, a bakery, a food store, a pushcart, a temporary food booth, or any other way to serve food to the public here in Cochise County, contact our offices. We'll help you determine if the facility you're planning to build, rent or buy will be satisfactory to the foodservice business. Even if you're only planning to serve hot dogs at a Fourth of July event, or prepare Carne Asada at a church event contact us to submit a permit application. Together we will prepare your operation for safe food handling for the public.
- Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts | FDA
- Food Safety and Foods linked to Foodborne Illnesses
- Keeping Poultry Flocks Fact Sheet (PDF)
Fixed Food Facilities (Eating Establishments)
- Cochise County Environmental Health Permit Application (PDF)
- Cochise County Environmental Health Permit Application and Plan Review (PDF)
- Equipment Requirements (PDF)
- General Requirements for Food Service Construction (PDF)
Mobile Food Units
- Cochise County Environmental Health Permit Application - Mobile Food Unit (PDF)
- Cochise County Environmental Health Mobile Food Establishment Plan Review (PDF)
- Cochise County Commissary Log Sheet (DOCX)
- Commissary Information & Agreement (PDF)
- Mobile Food Unit Types I, II, III (PDF)
Temporary Food Permits
The Environmental Health Division provides regulatory oversight for all aspects of sanitation at RV/Trailer parks and Hotels/Motels including proper sewage disposal connections, water supply issues, room cleanliness, and maintenance. Public accommodations are inspected on an annual basis and as needed.
Arizona Administrative Code
The Environmental Health Division provides regulatory oversight for the proper disinfection and safety of public and semi-public pools and spas. Public pools can be accessed by any member of the public and are normally provided by a local government entity, such as a local city. A semi-public pool is normally found at motels, hotels, apartment complexes, RV parks, etc. Public pools are inspected monthly during the season they are open. Semi-public pools are inspected twice during their open season. The rules for pools and spas are found in Arizona Administrative Code Title 9, Article 8.
Virginia Baker Law
The new Virginia Baker law is to protect people from drowning as a result of suction at the pool drains. These pools must be retrofitted to prevent these accidents from occurring.
The Environmental Health Department does not enforce this law. It is a Federal Consumer Protection law enforced by the federal government. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality may need a permit for any changes to the piping designs.
Sewage System Permit
The first step is to have your property evaluated to determine the size and location of the septic system before siting a house, structure, or well. It will be easier to move buildings on paper if you need to, due to setbacks or the size of the system. To do so, you must hire a state certified evaluator to conduct a soil and site evaluation. They will excavate at least 3 test pits (two in the primary sewage disposal area and a third in the reserve disposal field area) to a depth of 12 feet and determine the capacity of the soil to absorb water and any limiting conditions. The evaluator will then design a septic system that matches your development desires to the available space.
You must have the soil and site evaluation completed before applying for a sewage disposal permit. Applications are accepted and processed through the Cochise Health and Social Services (Health Department) offices. If an alternative system (composting toilets are an alternative system) is necessary (due to limiting conditions, such as, lack of soil, high groundwater, impermeable layers, etc.), the evaluator will recommend that you design a system to compensate for whatever the limiting condition is. The application for an alternative system may be reviewed by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality or the Health Department depending on the system chosen.
Septic Inspection Line 520-432-9441
- Have your parcel #
- Date you need inspection by (for next day inspection call before 4PM)
Notice of Substantive Policy Statement
Site & Soil Evaluator
A qualified Investigator/Evaluator can be either:
- Arizona registered professional engineer
- Arizona registered professional geologist,
- Arizona registered sanitarian
- Individual with a certificate of training from a course recognized by ADEQ
Care & Maintenance
Improperly maintained and failing septic systems are common sources of water pollution and potential public health hazards. The following are to assist you in maintaining your septic system for optimal sewage treatment and maximum life span:
- The septic system is an underground two-part sewage treatment and wastewater disposal system. It is composed of a septic tank and a leach field. Sewage flows by gravity into the septic tank where the solids are removed, and some treatment occurs. The remaining liquid flows to leach fields where it is further treatment occurs and allowed to soak into the soil.
- It is recommended that the septic tank be pumped every 3 to 5 years of normal household use. Contractors are listed in the telephone book (in the yellow pages under Septic Tanks and Systems-Cleaning). If solids from the tank are allowed to enter the leach field, the life of your system could be drastically diminished, causing expensive repairs much sooner than would usually be expected.
- To locate where your septic tank system is, consult your Cochise County Environmental Health Division office nearest you. If your house is not too old, the office may have a record of where your septic tank is located in reference to your home. Another way would be to probe the yard to see if you can physically find it. Your yard may contain certain clues, such as a cleanout pipe. This line leads directly to the tank, which is usually 10 feet or more from the foundation of the house. A plumber or septic tank pumping company can also locate the tank for you.
- Newer septic tanks have an effluent filter inside of the second chamber of the tank before the outlet or discharge pipe. The purpose of the effluent filter is to prevent solids from infiltrating into the leach fields. Effluent filters must be periodically cleaned. It can be cleaned by removing it from the tank and rinsing it with running water. You or your septic pumper can clean these filters. Cleaning is usually recommended at least once each year.
- The efficiency of the septic system is related to the quantity and quality of the wastewater. All leaking fixtures should be repaired as soon as possible. In normal quantities, household cleaning products would not have any harmful effects. Disinfectants (such as bleach), pesticides, herbicides, paint, solvents, or oils should not be disposed of in the septic system. The addition of chemicals or bacterial enzymes is not recommended.
- Septic system failure is usually indicated by either the backing up of sewage into the home or by surfacing effluent in the leach field area. When this occurs, you must determine the cause and correct the issue. It may mean that the septic tank needs pumping, and/or the leach field's ability to handle the inflow of effluent is decreasing. Surfacing effluent is considered a public health hazard. It requires immediate correction, such as pumping the tank and possibly obtaining a repair permit from EHD if repairs to the septic system need to be done.
This program is a component of other Environmental Health Division (EHD) programs as well as a stand-alone program. The Division provides surveillance for insects and animals that could pose a public health threat. These include surveillance for:
- Mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus, and many other human diseases.
- Africanized bees that if disturbed can be deadly.
- Rats and Mice that carry many diseases including Hantavirus and Plague.
Current public education efforts involve mosquito control, Africanized bees, Hantavirus control, and rabies. For more information please visit the Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases Program website.
Septic System Resources
- Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Fact Sheet Wells Impacted by Flooding (PDF)
- Certificate of Water Tightness (PDF)
- Composting Toilet and Other Alternative Systems (PDF)
- Disinfection of Wells (PDF)
- Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet What to Do After the Flood Septic Systems (PDF)
- Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet What to Do After the Flood Wells (PDF)
- Fact sheet for Septic and Composting Systems (PDF)
- Inspection Report - Septic Tank Decommission (PDF)
- List of Proprietary Products for On-site Wastewater Treatment Facilities (PDF)
- Recent Changes to Composting Toilet Rules (PDF)
- Septic Notice of Transfer (Arizona Department Environmental Quality Form) (PDF)
- Septic System Design Form (PDF)
- Site Plan (PDF)
- State Sewage Rules (PDF)
- Uniform Site Investigation Report Form - A.A.C. R18-9-A310 (PDF)