News of Interest

Periodic Review of the Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) proposes to update the Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems (AOSS Regulations), 12VAC5-613. Input from stakeholders to date was used to develop a working draft for proposed revisions.  04 2018 AOSS Regulation Working Draft.

As part of the Periodic Review of the AOSS Regulations, the Virginia Department of Health will conduct statewide listening sessions to gather comment and feedback on the AOSS Regulations and the working draft. We invite you to attend a listening session to learn about the regulation and the proposed changes. If you are unable to attend a session, you may send comments to Marcia Degen at, or Karri Atwood at

We look forward to your participation in this regulatory process and appreciate your time and attention to the matter.  Below is the agenda, scheduled location, and time of each session:

Meeting Agenda

  1. Welcome and Overview of Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems (AOSS)
  2. The AOSS Regulations, 12 VAC 5-613-10, et.seq.
  3. The Periodic Review Process
  4. Review of Working Draft Regulation
  5. Open for Public Comment on Working Draft of the AOSS Regulations.


Date Time Location
May 2, 2018

Southwest VA

1:30 pm to 3:30 pm Rm 122, Smyth Hall

Wytheville Community College

1000 E. Main St.;  Wytheville VA 24382

May 9, 2018

Northern VA

9:00 am to 11:00 am Auditorium;  Fire and Rescue Training Center 16600 Courage Ct.;  Leesburg VA 20175
May 10, 2018

Shenandoah Valley

10:00 am to 12:00 N Board Rm; Augusta Co. Government Center

18 Government Center Lane;  Verona, VA

May 14, 2018

Central VA

1:30 pm to 3:30 pm Perimeter Center, Board Rm 4

9960 Mayland Dr.; Richmond VA 23233

May 22, 2018

Eastern VA

1:30 pm to 3:30 pm 3rd floor, Training Room A

135 Hall Avenue;  Suffolk VA 23434

HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS: Comments may be submitted at any of the meetings or by email to or . Comments on the working draft must be received by June 30, 2018.

NEXT STEPS: A new working draft will be developed from the comments received by June 30, 2018. Focus stakeholder groups will be convened as needed to refine topics.   VDH anticipates initiating the formal regulatory process to update the regulations in Fall 2018. During the formal process there will be additional opportunities to comment on the draft proposed regulations.

 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.

Learn more here

 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:

GMP 2017-01 Onsite Sewage Application Expectations and Requirements

GMP 2017-02 Repair and Voluntary Upgrade Policy

GMP 2017-03 Safe, Adequate, and Proper Evaluations

GMP 2017-04 Onsite Quality Assurance Manual

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.

Long Range Plan for Onsite Sewage

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 or (804) 864-7458 or visit this link.

 HB558 of the 2016 General Assembly Session

House Bill 558: Plan Development

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 .

Draft Alternative Discharge Regulations Implementation Manual

Fee Regulations

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

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:

IEN Final Report for the Emergency Regulations
Weldon Cooper’s Findings on Owner Experiences using Onsite Sewage Systems in Virginia
Manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance Instructions

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 Documents

Memorandum of Agreement Documents