- Report Published -
|Five-Year Report on the Status of Onsite Sewage Handling and Disposal|
|Department of Health|
|Section 32.1-163.2 of the Code of Virginia requires the Board of Health to develop and revise as may be necessary a five-year plan for the handling and disposal of onsite sewage. The Code also requires the Board to report to the governor and the General Assembly every five years, beginning in 1992, on the status of onsite sewage handling in Virginia and the progress in implementing its long-range plan.|
The rapid development of onsite wastewater technologies continues to offer opportunities for addressing difficult site conditions in the Commonwealth. That same rapid development has raised concerns over the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) approval processes for new technologies and designs. Some perceive that the processes are slow and burdensome; others believe that too many alternative systems adversely affect local government's ability to manage growth; many are concerned that advanced wastewater systems will not be properly operated and maintained by their individual owners. The report details the status of the onsite program in this area and explores related issues such as the move toward a performance-based regulatory program, the need for data on conventional and alternative system performance, and the need for appropriate operation, maintenance, and monitoring to assure the performance of alternative and conventional onsite wastewater systems.
Greater reliance upon technology and more private-sector involvement in the onsite program, particularly in the program for Authorized Onsite Soil Evaluators (AOSE), have increased the need for training and education for VDH staff and the private sector. VDH's program for AOSEs has been successful in speeding the application process for many citizens. However, it has also resulted in several instances where VDH approvals were revoked after it was discovered that AOSEs had not properly certified the affected sites. These relatively few incidents have affected relationships between some AOSEs, citizens and VDH. The report discusses the AOSE program and includes information presented to the HJR 771 subcommittee regarding suggested changes to the AOSE program and other areas of the onsite wastewater program.
VDH's 2002 report discusses significant improvements in environmental and public health protection that are being realized as a result of amendments to the Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations and because of the increased use of advanced (secondary and better) wastewater treatment. Also included in the report are data that detail the 52,129 requests for onsite approvals received by VDH in fiscal year 2000. A number of related topics, including an Onsite Wastewater Training Center, retention of VDH environmental health staff, and the need for alternatives to criminal enforcement are also discussed.