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Onsite Sewage & Water Services


Department of Professional Occupation Regulation (DPOR)

As of July 1, 2009, licensure of the Conventional and Authorized Onsite Soil Evaluator (C/AOSE) Program will be overseen by the Department of Professional Occupation Regulation (DPOR). VDH will continue to review OSE onsite system design work, however; all licensure of Onsite Sewage System Professionals will be conducted by DPOR.  

If in need of an onsite sewage system professional through the Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals  (WWWOOP) for operations, installing or soil evaluations please refer to the DPOR website. Once on this page, enter your zipcode, place an asterisk (*) in the name section, and select the licensure. To select the licensure, scroll down to Onsite Sewage System Professionals, and click on Soil Evaluators, Installers or Operators. Please see DPOR regulations for more information.

Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems (AOSS)

On July 1, 2009, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) instituted a program for regulating the operation and maintenance of Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems (AOSS). These sewage systems allow increased usability of valuable land resources while protecting ground water and public health, but incorporate complex designs that require routine maintenance to ensure they are functioning properly.

Owners of AOSS installed after July 1, 2009 are required to record notices in the land records that their residences utilize an AOSS and that they must operate their AOSS in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. They are also required to submit a copy of the Operations and Maintenance Manual provided by their designer to the local health department.

AOSS that were installed prior to April 7, 2010 are subject to the performance standards in place at the time they were installed. The main requirements are that the owner maintains a relationship with a licensed Operator, has at least one service visit per year, and keeps a copy of the Operator maintenance log and AOSS manual.

On December 7, 2011, the Alternative Onsite Sewage System Regulations became effective and contain the performance requirements and horizontal setbacks that are necessary to protect public health for alternative onsite sewage systems (AOSSs). The regulations also contain owner and operator responsibilities for operating and maintaining AOSSs.

For established AOSS designs that have received “general approval” from VDH, an initial sample must be taken within the first six months of operation, and then once every five years thereafter (once yearly maintenance visit still applies).

AOSS technologies that are newer and have not established performance histories that would grant them general approval status are required to have more maintenance visits with many additional samples taken.

It is important for owners of AOSS to understand that it is ultimately their responsibility to ensure that their systems are functioning properly and meeting performance standards. Owners may accomplish this by maintaining a relationship with a licensed Operator and learning more about how their system works, what the limitations are, and how simple changes in habit or routine can affect system function.

Information regarding Operator licensure can be found at the Department of Professional Occupation Regulation at DPORFor more information on these requirements, please click here. For more information on AOSS operation and maintenance, please contact an Environmental Health Specialist at your local health department. For information on manufacturer’s instructions, click here.  

VDH Regulations & Permits

To protect the groundwater, proper treatment and disposal of sewage waste in rural areas is important. VDH has regulations in place to ensure septic systems are state adequate. VDH requires a sewage disposal construction and/or well construction permit for installation, modification, or repair of a septic tank, dispersal field or well in order to make sure the system complies with the current regulations. We recommend hiring a private soil consultant (C/AOSE) to assist you in locating a drainfield area and designing the best possible system to meet your needs and protect the groundwater. Construction permits for a combined well and sewage disposal systems are valid for 18 months. Well-only permits are valid for 54 months. Additional information pertaining to the permitting process can be obtained at the VDH Division of Onsite Sewage and Water Services web site.

Beginning July 1, 2010, the Virginia Department of Health (VHD) increased fees charged for certification letters and septic and well permits.  The reason for the fee increase is to offset a $3.7 million decrease in state general fund support for local health department operations.  In addition, VDH wanted its fees to be more in line with the actual cost(s) of providing the specific service(s).  The revised VDH fee schedule is less than or comparable to fees charged by neighboring states. 

Fees for Onsite Sewage & Water Programs

Septic Tank Pump Out

The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (Bay Act) was enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 as a critical element of Virginia's non-point source management program.  

Counties, who have adopted the Bay Act, require every septic tank located in the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA), including the majority of the Chickahominy District, be pumped out or inspected every five years. Regular pumping out of your septic tank will not only increase the life of your system, it will also help protect the environment. For more information on the septic tank pump-out program please contact your local county agency.

County Websites:

Charles City County
Goochland County
Hanover County
New Kent County

Private Drinking Water Wells

To ensure private wells are located, constructed, and maintained in a manner that does not affect the safety and health of people and the environment, a permit is required by the Virginia Department of Health before the construction, alteration, or abandonment of a private well. Before issuing well permits, the Chickahominy Health District inspects residential, small business, and irrigation wells to ensure safe distances from any contaminants. The requirements for a Record of Inspection for a new well to become a domestic drinking water supply include submitting a well drillers log and a negative water testing sample for total coliform. Once the well drillers log and water sample is submitted to the local health department, an Environmental Health Specialist can conduct the well inspection. For information on certified laboratories for water testing of private wells, click here.

Maintenance of wells is important in ensuring safe drinking water. As a well owner you are responsible for the continued safety of your water. The Virginia Department of Health offers information regarding the safety of groundwater wells.

Links for more information on drinking water wells:

How to Disinfect a Well
Private Well Water Information
Water Testing Laboratories
Well Abandonment Fee Change Memo
CDC Private Groundwater Wells
CDC Common Diseases and Contaminants Associated With Wells


Last Updated: 03-27-2014

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