The Emergency Alternative Onsite Sewage System (AOSS) Regulations published on November 16, 2009 by the Virginia Department of Health were approved by Governor McDonnell on April 6, 2010, and are now in effect.
The emergency regulations implement the 2007 legislation and require professional operators certified by DPOR to operate and maintain all alternative on site septic systems, AOSS, including those of single family homes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. While I object to routine sampling requirements for functioning single family AOSSs, and I feel there should be provisions within DPOR regulations for homeowners to become qualified to operate and maintain their own systems; overall I believe that these regulations are good and will ensure the proper functioning and operation of existing and future AOSSs in Virginia, The Emergency Alternative Onsite Sewage System Regulations despite their flaws will serve to protect the waters of the state and public health, and will set a higher standard of performance for these on site systems.
Single family homeowners with alternative systems need to comply with these new regulations. Every owner of an AOSS must hire a licensed operator to operate and maintain their system as evidenced by a contract. This portion of the regulations should ensure that these systems are properly operating and protecting the waters of the state. The other requirements of the regulations will all be handled by the licensed operator so the most important step is to hire a licensed, and qualified operator. Since there are no provisions in the regulation for a homeowner to become qualified to maintain their own system even homeowners who work for the Department of Health, are Professional Engineers or in other ways might be capable of and interested in operating or maintaining their own system, there is little a homeowner can do to reduce the costs associated with this regulation. Perhaps when the final regulations are developed they will be less burdensome for the single family homeowner and allow for a homeowner to become licensed to operate their own systems.
Effective July 1, 2009, Virginia law required that soil evaluators, installers, and operators of on site sewage systems must be licensed by the Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and Onsite Sewage System Professionals at the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). The new regulations require the same operation, maintenance, sampling, record keeping behavior in single family home owners as required of clustered systems of up to 39,999 gallons per day. These regulations require that for single family homes, in addition to being operated and maintained by a licensed operator, have samples and taken by a licensed operator every five years (or at the operator’s discretion after an incident) and analyzed at the homeowner’s expense and maintain an operating manual and records on site.
Here are the basics of the new regulations:
Owner responsibilities. The owner of an AOSS must:
Maintain a relationship with a licensed operator as evidenced by a contract.
Have the AOSS operated by a licensed operator;
Have a licensed operator visit the AOSS at the frequency outlined below;
Minimum Operator visit frequency for AOSS up to 1,000 gallons per day of average daily flow:
Initial Visit must take place within 180 calendar days of the issuance of the operation permit Regular Visit after Initial Visit -Every 12 Months
Have the licensed operator collect all samples required by the regulation and have the analysis performed by an accredited laboratory;
SAMPLING REQUIREMENTS FOR AOSS under 1,000 gallons per day :
1. The Flow must be Estimated (The basis for this estimation is unknown since the licensed operator is only on site one day a year unless there is an incident)
2. BOD and TSS- a Grab sample must be taken every 5 years
3. TRC, Contact Tank (if there is one)- a Grab sample must be taken every 5 years
4. Fecal Coliform- a Grab sample must be taken every 5 years
Keep a copy of the log provided by the operator on the property where the AOSS is located, make the log available to the Department of Health upon request, and make a reasonable effort to transfer the log to any future owner;
Keep a copy of the Operation and Maintenance Manual (O&M Manual) on the property where the AOSS is located, make the manual available to the Department of Health upon request, and make a reasonable effort to transfer the O&M Manual to any future owner. For existing systems they will have to have their licensed operator create an O&M Manual.