News of Interest

Environmental Health Services Interruption

In order to offer Virginians faster, more secure and better quality environmental health data, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) migrated to a new data system known as the Environmental Health Database (EHD). We are nearing the end of the migration period, but some Environmental Health services that rely on the use of the database may be interrupted. These services include, but are not limited to, the printing of approval letters and permits, responding to requests for data abstraction or publishing of reports, and/or other general inquiries. Regulatory activities are not impacted by the transition. Information pertaining to individual regulated facilities can be obtained by contacting your local health department.

House Bill 888 - Hardship Guidelines

Update – June 11, 2019

Chapter 831 of the 2018 Virginia Acts of Assembly (House Bill 888) provides authority for VDH to gradually transition evaluation and design services for onsite sewage systems and private wells to the private sector.  House Bill 888 provides authority for VDH to continue providing evaluation and design services to applicants that meet income eligibility criteria specified in House Bill 888.  House Bill 888 also provides authority for VDH to establish hardship guidelines to maintain VDH as a provider of last resort for property owners who have difficulties in obtaining private sector services.

The final Hardship Guidelines (GMP 2019-01) for the transition of services are now available at  The guidelines where published in the June 10, 2019, edition of the Virginia Register of Regulations, marking the start of a 30-day public comment period on the guidelines.  The comment period will close on July 10, 2019, and the guidelines will become effective July 11, 2019.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Lance Gregory, Director of the Division of Onsite Sewage and Water Services, Environmental Engineering, and Marina Programs, at (804) 864-7491 or by email at

TL-3 General Approval for Clearstream N Model Expires December 31, 2018
Clearstream Wastewater Systems, Inc. opted not to re-apply for its TL-3 General Approval for the Clearstream N models[1].

The TL-3 general approval for the Clearstream N unit expires December 31, 2018. Only the TL-3 general approval will expire. The Clearstream N model maintains its generally approved status for treatment level 2 (TL-2). The Clearstream N model is not and has not been recognized as a nitrogen reducing unit.

This includes ALL N models such as the N, NC, NC2, NC3, NC3T, and NU.

[Clearstream applied for and received TL3 general approval for its Model D units on November 28, 2018. See website under GMP 2016-03 for details.]

Existing valid construction permits and construction permit applications received on or before December 31, 2018, proposing to utlize Clearstream N units are unaffected.  The Clearstream N unit may be installed under those permits and are subject to sampling requirements for generally approved units  (12VAC5-613-100D). When a Clearstream N unit is proposed for construction permit applications received after December 31, 2018, the unit will be considered generally approved for Treatment Level 2 (TL-2) only.

Existing units installed on or prior to December 31, 2018, in association with an approved construction permit for both onsite sewage and stream discharging systems, retain their TL-3 general approval status.


I submitted a construction application for an onsite sewage system on December 20, 2018, that requires TL-3 and proposes a Clearstream N unit to comply with TL-3 treatment standards. Will my application be denied?

No. The Clearstream N model does not lose its TL-3 general approval until December 31, 2018. Applications proposing Clearstream N models received on or prior to December 31, 2018,  will be considered with the TL-3 general approval.

I have a project that I will submit on January 15, 2019, that I intend to use a Clearstream N unit to meet the TL-3 requirement for the site.  Will that permit be denied?

For this application submitted after December 31, 2018, the Clearstream N unit will not be generally approved for TL-3.  If the application is submitted by a professional engineer under Virginia Code 32.1-163.6, an engineer may propose the unit as non-generally approved for TL-3.  Additional sampling under 12VAC5-613-100E for non-generally approved units will be required.

I have a discharging system with a Clearstream N unit installed to meet the TL-3 requirement. Will I have to change out my unit when my permit is renewed?

No. Installed units will maintain their general approval status.


[1] On July 13, 2010, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) issued a Treatment Level 3 (TL-3) general approval for the Clearstream N treatment unit under the Emergency Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Treatment Systems (12VAC5-613, Emergency Regulations) and in accordance with the procedures outlined in Guidance, Memorandum, and Policy (GMP) 147.   The final regulations, Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems (12VAC5-613, AOSS Regulations) replaced the Emergency Regulations and were adopted on December 7, 2011. The AOSS Regulations include a stipulation in 12VAC5-613-30.L that all currently generally approved treatment units shall retain such status for 5 years, after which the units shall be evaluated pursuant to the requirements of the regulations. Subsequently, Clearstream applied for and received a variance to extend the TL3 general approval to December 31, 2018.

Periodic Review of the Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems (Last Updated June 6, 2019)

Update June 6, 2019

The update process for the Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage System Regulations (AOSS Regulations), 12VAC5-613, has entered it first official step:  Publication of the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA).  The NOIRA describes the update proposed and allows for comments to be submitted by the public.  You can find the NOIRA and the comment page here.  The public comment period ends June 28, 2019.

VDH has compiled all of the comments received to date prior to the start of the NOIRA comment period.  This compilation organizes the comments by regulatory section from the stakeholder meetings described below as well as additional comments received by staff through June 6, 2019.  VDH will create a new draft from the accumulated comments plus any new comments received during the NOIRA comment period.  The new draft will be posted here as well as distributed through normal channels.   Composite Comments 06 06 2019


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.


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
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