Onsite Operations and Maintenance Data now Online
The Division of Onsite Sewage and Water Services, Environmental Engineering, and Marina Programs has initiated a program that will enable sharing of data important to stakeholders about the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) onsite sewage program. This effort will begin with the posting of operation and maintenance (O&M) data for alternative onsite sewage systems (AOSS) and alternative discharging sewage systems (ADSS) on the Division’s website. The source of these data are private sector operators who submit required reports to VDH. Because use of the VENIS database is limited to VDH personnel, sharing the data requires extraction from VENIS, and converting and reposting it in a location and format that is accessible to stakeholders.
New Policies Released for Onsite Sewage and Water Services
The program of Onsite Sewage and Water Services has released the following new policies necessary to implement the long range plan and to improve consistency within the program. These are:
Long Range Plan Released for Onsite Sewage Program
The Board of Health published the Long Range Plan for Onsite Sewage, a report to the Virginia General Assembly, on December 20, 2016. Virginia Code § 32.1-163.2 requires the Board of Health to develop and revise a five-year plan for the handling and disposal of onsite sewage. The Board must report to the Governor and the General Assembly every five years on the status of the onsite sewage program in Virginia and the health department’s long-range plan. This report describes the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) onsite sewage and water supply program.
Board of Health approves fast-track amendments to the Alternative Onsite Sewage System Regulations
On December 1, 2016, the Board of Health approved fast-track amendments to the Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems (12VAC5-613, AOSS Regulations), which establish performance and operation and maintenance requirements for alternative onsite sewage systems. The draft fast-track amendments change the definition of “direct dispersal of effluent to groundwater,” also known as “direct dispersal,” (12VAC5-613-10), and adds a new section (12VAC5-613-90.E) revising performance requirements of repairs and voluntary upgrades.
The fast-track amendments will encourage owners with older septic systems to improve treatment from what is currently dispersed, resulting in greater public health protection. The requirements for direct dispersal contained in the AOSS Regulations have proven to be an economic stumbling block for owners who want to repair or upgrade older septic systems with newer technology. The draft requirements would only be available to owners of sewage systems already dispersing effluent into groundwater with an average sewage flow of 1,000 gallons/day or less.
The Sewage Handling and Disposal Advisory Committee, consisting of over 15 stakeholder groups, reviewed the fast track amendments for a second time at its September 15, 2016, meeting. All but one of the stakeholders approved the fast-track amendments. The one dissenting vote resulted from the stakeholder wanting the fast track amendments to include new construction or undeveloped property, in addition to voluntary upgrades and repairs. Staff will consider this stakeholder’s position through another regulatory action since many other stakeholders oppose changing performance requirements for undeveloped property.
With the changes, costs will be significantly reduced, perhaps by 50% or more. The fast track amendments will undergo executive branch review and approval now. Following publication of the fast track amendments after executive branch approval, the regulations would take effect 15 days after the close of a 30-day comment period unless 10 or more persons object, or any member of the applicable standing committee of either house of the General Assembly or of the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules objects. In the event of a qualified objection, the fast track amendments would revert to the normal and routine regulatory adoption process.
For more information, contact Dwayne Roadcap at Dwayne.Roadcap@vdh.virginia.gov or (804) 864-7458 or visit this link.
HB558 of the 2016 General Assembly Session
On November 28, 2016, the Virginia Department of Health offered its final plan for consideration. You can view the plan here. House Bill 558, of the 2016 General Assembly session, requires the State Health Commissioner to develop a plan for VDH to stop providing evaluation and design services for onsite sewage systems and the placement of private wells on private property because licensed private sector service providers can provide these services.
HB 558 requires the Commissioner’s plan to:
- Provide for the orderly reduction and elimination of evaluation and design services offered by VDH;
- Provide for the protection of public health throughout the transition of reducing and eliminating VDH services;
- Shift VDH evaluation and design services to licensed private sector onsite soil evaluators (OSE), licensed private sector professional engineers (PE), and certified water well system providers (well drillers); and
- Propose legislative, regulatory, or other policy changes necessary to implement the Commissioner’s plan.
Alternative Discharging Regulations
The Board of Health promulgated revised Alternative Discharging Regulations (12VAC5-640) on December 16, 2015. You can find the revised regulations here In addition to the revised regulations, staff have developed the draft Alternative Discharge Regulations Implementation Manual below. If you have any questions or comments on the draft implementation manual, please contact Dr. Marcia Degen at Marcia.Degen@vdh.virginia.gov .
The Board of Health promulgated revised Fee Regulations (12VAC5-620) on February 12, 2016. You can find the revised Fee Regulations here If you have any questions, please contact Jim Bowles at Jim.Bowles@vdh.virginia.gov.
Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems
The Board of Health will consider a fast-track amendment to the regulations on December 1, 2016. A periodic review of the regulations recently concluded and the VDH will initiate a stakeholder process in the near future to address comments received. For more information contact Dwayne Roadcap.
Historical information: The Virginia Department of Health convened a series of technical advisory committee meetings to seek input for proposed regulations. You can view information about those meetings here. Other related documents regarding the regulations for alternative onsite sewage systems can be found at these links:
Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations
A periodic review of the regulations recently concluded and the VDH will initiate a stakeholder process in the near future to address comments received. For more information contact Dwayne Roadcap.
- Report Document 32 on HB 2185 (2011 General Assembly), enhancing private sector input
- Report to Governor and General Assembly, November 2011 (Five Year Report)
- Report to the Governor and the General Assembly, January 2007 (Five Year Report)
- VDH Re-engineering Initiative: Prepared by E.L Hamm and Associates, Inc.