After much thought I have come up with some ideas on how to amend the Emergency Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems in Virginia to better achieve the goals of the regulation and serve the people of Virginia. Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems are likely to be used more extensively in the future and may replace many of the conventional septic systems that fail. Though, conventional septic systems were designed to operate indefinitely if properly maintained, the truth is they have no alarms or ways to monitor them and the EPA states that most are not well maintained. The EPA estimates that the life of a conventional septic system is t 20 years or less. AOSS systems that are properly maintained will better serve the 30% of all homes that use on-site sewage systems and protect Virginia and Virginians.
To protect public health and the environment are essential and the goal of these regulations. In order to achieve this goal, regulation must be effective, clear and not overly burdensome. Self regulation is a proven effective model that can work to ensure that single family and low volume AOSS units are operated and maintained to protect public health and the environment. We allow people to operate their own automobiles on highways with school buses, ambulances, fire trucks, taxicabs, professional drivers and other citizens. We allow licensed pilots to fly planes. These citizens operate and maintain their machinery with annual inspections. The same self regulatory system can work for AOSSs.
First of all I believe that any PE, engineer licensed in the state of Virginia can operate and maintain their own AOSS.
Anyone who maintains an AOSS must personally hold either a PE, be certified under Chapter 23 of title 54.1 as being qualified to operate, monitor, and maintain AOSSs, or hold a (new) Class 2 License even if working under the direct supervision of an individual who is licensed or certified under Chapter 23 (§ 54.1-2300 et seq.) of Title 54.1 as being qualified to operate, monitor, and maintain an alternative onsite sewage system. I believe that the field employees should have at least a basic knowledge of AOSS systems, their operations, working parts and maintenance requirements before they are sent out to my house to work on my system.
“Maintenance” means performing adjustments to equipment and controls and in-kind replacement of normal wear and tear parts such as light bulbs, fuses, filters, pumps, motors, or other like components. Maintenance includes pumping the tanks on a periodic basis. Maintenance shall not include replacement of tanks, drain field piping, distribution boxes, or work requiring a construction permit and installer.
The DPOR must develop a test to qualify anyone seeking capability to maintain an AOSS system. All field employees of any entity that is licensed or certified under Chapter 23 (§ 54.1-2300 et seq.) of Title 54.1 as being qualified to operate, monitor, and maintain an alternative onsite sewage system, must have at least a Class 2 License. The new Class 2 License can not have a professional work experience requirement, but must demonstrate knowledge of AOSSs.
An owner of an AOSS of less than 1,000 gallons a day may operate and maintain their own system if they have obtained a Class 2 License demonstrating knowledge of the systems.
All AOSSs less than 1,000 gallons a day must be inspected annually. Inspections can only be performed by the department of Health or an individual who is personally licensed or certified under Chapter 23 (§ 54.1-2300 et seq.) of Title 54.1 as being qualified to operate, monitor, and maintain an alternative onsite sewage system.
All AOSS under 1,000 gallons a day must be operated by either an individual who is licensed or certified under Chapter 23 (§ 54.1-2300 et seq.) of Title 54.1 as being qualified to operate, monitor, and maintain an alternative onsite sewage system or the owner of the system and is either a PE in Virginia or holds a Class 2 License.
All AOSS less than 1,000 gallons a day must be maintained according to the requirements of the operating manual and maintain a log.
No AOSS less than 1,000 gallon a day will be required to sample the system. All of the approved AOSS systems were demonstrated to perform satisfactorily to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth. Operation and maintenance of these AOSS systems by professional operators, PEs, or trained homeowners ensures that a low volume unit is functioning properly. A sampling and testing requirement is burdensome, without public health or environmental benefits.