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Performance Requirements for Repairs and Voluntary Upgrades of ...
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12VAC5-613-10

Part I
General

12VAC5-613-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms used in this chapter shall have the following meanings. Terms not defined in this chapter shall have the meanings prescribed in Chapter 6 (§ 32.1-163 et seq.) of Title 32.1 of the Code of Virginia or in 12VAC5-610 unless the plain reading of the language requires a different meaning.

"Alternative onsite sewage system," "AOSS," or "alternative onsite system" means a treatment works that is not a conventional onsite sewage system and does not result in a point source discharge.

"Best management practice" means a conservation or pollution control practice approved by the division, such as wastewater treatment units, shallow effluent dispersal fields, saturated or unsaturated soil zones, or vegetated buffers, that manages nutrient losses or other potential pollutant sources to minimize pollution of water resources.

"Biochemical oxygen demand, five-day" or "BOD5" means the quantitative measure of the amount of oxygen consumed by bacteria while stabilizing, digesting, or treating biodegradable organic matter under aerobic conditions over a five-day incubation period; BOD5 is expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/l).

"Board" means the State Board of Health.

"Chesapeake Bay Watershed" means the following Virginia river basins: Potomac River Basin (see 9VAC25-260-390 and 9VAC25-260-400), James River Basin (see 9VAC25-260-410, 9VAC25-260-415, 9VAC25-260-420, and 9VAC25-260-430), Rappahannock River Basin (see 9VAC25-260-440), Chesapeake Bay and small coastal basins (see 9VAC25-260-520, Section 2 through Section 3g), and the York River Basin (see 9VAC25-260-530).

"Conventional onsite sewage system" means a treatment works consisting of one or more septic tanks with gravity, pumped, or siphoned conveyance to a gravity distributed subsurface drainfield.

"Department" means the Virginia Department of Health.

"Direct dispersal of effluent to ground water" means less than six inches of vertical separation between ground water and the point of effluent application or the bottom of a an effluent-dispersal trench or other excavation and ground water. Other excavation excludes the following: minor tillage of the soil surface without soil removal; replacement of fill material with better quality fill material as determined by the Department to improve the ability of the site to treat wastewater; house foundations; tank excavations; force main and header line excavations; and soil disturbances, including preexisting drainfields installed prior to July 17, 2017, that are not designed for surface or ground water drainage, and do not create a direct conduit to ground water.

"Disinfection" means a process used to destroy or inactivate pathogenic microorganisms in wastewater to render them non-infectious.

"Dissolved oxygen" or "DO" means the concentration of oxygen dissolved in effluent, expressed in mg/l or as percent saturation, where saturation is the maximum amount of oxygen that can theoretically be dissolved in water at a given altitude and temperature.

"Division" means the Division of Onsite Sewage and Water Services, Environmental Engineering, and Marina Programs within the department.

"Effluent" means sewage that has undergone treatment.

"General approval" means that a treatment unit has been evaluated in accordance with the requirements of this chapter and 12VAC5-610 and approved for TL-2 or TL-3 in accordance with this chapter.

"GPD/sf" means gallons per day per square foot.

"Ground water" means any water, except capillary moisture, beneath the land surface in the zone of saturation or beneath the bed of any stream, lake, reservoir, or other body of surface water wholly or partially within the boundaries of this Commonwealth, whatever the subsurface geologic structure in which such water stands, flows, percolates, or otherwise occurs. Ground water includes a seasonal or perched water table.

"High-level disinfection" means a disinfection method that results in a fecal coliform concentration less than or equal to 2.2 colonies/100 ml. Chlorine disinfection requires a minimum total residual chlorine (TRC) concentration at the end of a 30 minute contact time of 1.5 mg/l. Ultraviolet disinfection requires a minimum dose of 50,000 μW-sec/cm2. Influent turbidity to the disinfection unit shall be less than or equal to 2 Nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) on average.

"Ksat" means saturated hydraulic conductivity.

"Large AOSS" means an AOSS that serves more than three attached or detached single-family residences with a combined average daily sewage flow greater than 1,000 GPD or a structure with an average daily sewage flow in excess of 1,000 GPD.

"Limiting feature" means a feature of the soil that limits or intercepts the vertical movement of water, including seasonal, perched or permanent water table, pans, soil restrictions, and pervious or impervious bedrock.

"Local health department" means the local health department having jurisdiction over the AOSS.

"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 or cleaning the building sewer on a periodic basis. Maintenance shall not include replacement of tanks, drainfield piping, and distribution boxes or work requiring a construction permit and an installer.

"MGD" means million gallons per day. 

"MPI" means minutes per inch.

"Operate" means the act of making a decision on one's own volition to (i) place into or take out of service a unit process or unit processes or (ii) make or cause adjustments in the operation of a unit process at a treatment works.

"Operation" means the biological, chemical, and mechanical processes of transforming sewage or wastewater to compounds or elements and water that no longer possess an adverse environmental or health impact.

"Operator" means any individual employed or contracted by any owner who is licensed or certified under Chapter 23 (§ 54.1-2300 et seq.) of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia as being qualified to operate, monitor and maintain an alternative onsite sewage system.

"Organic loading rate" means the biodegradable fraction of chemical oxygen demand (BOD, biodegradable fats, oils, and grease and volatile solids) delivered to a treatment component in a specified time interval expressed as mass per time or area; examples include pounds per day, pounds per cubic foot per day (pretreatment), or pounds per square foot per day (infiltrative surface or pretreatment). For a typical residential system, these regulations assume that biochemical loading (BOD5) equals organic loading.

"Owner" means the Commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, including sanitary districts, sanitation district commissions and authorities, or any individual, any group of individuals acting individually or as a group, or any public or private institution, corporation, company, partnership, firm, or association that owns or proposes to own a sewerage system or treatment works.

"pH" means the measure of the acid or base quality of water that is the negative log of the hydrogen ion concentration.

"Pollution" means such alteration of the physical, chemical, or biological properties of any state waters as will or is likely to create a nuisance or render such waters (i) harmful or detrimental or injurious to the public health, safety, or welfare or to the health of animals, fish, or aquatic life; (ii) unsuitable with reasonable treatment for use as present or possible future sources of public water supply; or (iii) unsuitable for recreational, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other reasonable uses. Pollution shall include any discharge of untreated sewage into state waters.

"Point source discharge" means any discernible, confined, and discrete conveyance including, but not limited to, any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, landfill leachate collection system, vessel, or other floating craft from which pollutants are or may be discharged. This term does not include return flows from irrigated agriculture or agricultural storm water run-off.

"Project area" means one or more recorded lots or a portion of a recorded lot owned by the owner of an AOSS or controlled by easement upon which an AOSS is located or that is contiguous to a soil treatment area and that is designated as such for purposes of compliance with the performance requirements of this chapter. In the case of an AOSS serving multiple dwellings, the project area may include multiple recorded lots as in a subdivision.

"Project area boundary" or "project boundary" means the physical limits of the three-dimensional length, width, and depth of the project area, whereby each dimension is identified as follows: (i) the horizontal component is the length and width of the project area; (ii) the upper vertical limit is the ground surface in and around the AOSS; and (iii) the lower vertical limit is the limiting feature.

"Renewable operating permit" means an operation permit that expires and must be revalidated at a predetermined frequency or schedule in accordance with this chapter.

"Reportable incident" means one or more of the following: an alarm event lasting more than 24 hours; an alarm event that reoccurs; any failure to achieve one or more performance requirements; removal of solids; replacement of media; or replacement of any major component of the system including electric and electronic components, pumps, blowers, and valves. The routine cleaning of effluent filters is not a reportable incident.

"Saturated hydraulic conductivity" means a quantitative measure of a saturated soil's capacity to transmit water when subjected to a hydraulic gradient.

"Settleable solids" means a measure of the volume of suspended solids that will settle out of suspension within a specified time, expressed in milliliters per liter (ml/l).

"Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations" means 12VAC5-610 or its successor.

"Small AOSS" means an AOSS that serves no more than three attached or detached single-family residences with a combined average flow of less than or equal to 1,000 GPD, or a structure with an average daily sewage flow of less than or equal to 1,000 GPD.

"Soil treatment area" means the physical location in the naturally occurring soil medium where final treatment and dispersal of effluent occurs.

"Standard disinfection" means a disinfection process that results in a fecal coliform concentration of less than or equal to 200 colonies/100 ml. Chlorine disinfection requires a minimum TRC concentration at the end of a 30 minute contact time of 1.0 mg/l. Influent TSS to the disinfection unit shall average 30 mg/l or less.

"Standard engineering practice" means the care, diligence, competence, and judgment that a reasonably prudent and experienced professional engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia would exercise given the circumstances, including site and soil conditions, of a particular AOSS design.

"State waters" means all water, on the surface and under the ground, wholly or partially within or bordering the Commonwealth or within its jurisdiction, including wetlands.

"Subsurface drainfield" means a system installed within the soil and designed to accommodate treated sewage from a treatment works.

"Surface waters" means: (i) all waters that are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide; (ii) all interstate waters, including interstate wetlands; (iii) all other waters such as intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds and the use, degradation, or destruction of which would affect or could affect interstate or foreign commerce including any such waters: (a) that are or could be used by interstate or foreign travelers for recreational or other purposes; (b) from which fish or shellfish are or could be taken and sold in interstate or foreign commerce; or (c) that are used or could be used for industrial purposes by industries in interstate commerce; (iv) all impoundments of waters otherwise defined as surface waters under this definition; (v) tributaries of waters identified in clauses (i) through (iv) of this definition; (vi) the territorial sea; and (vii) wetlands adjacent to waters (other than water that are themselves wetlands) identified in clauses (i) through (vi) of this definition.

"Total nitrogen" or "TN" means the measure of the complete nitrogen content of wastewater including all organic, inorganic, and oxidized forms expressed in mg/l as nitrogen.

"Total residual chlorine" or "TRC" means a measurement of the combined available chlorine and the free available chlorine available in a sample after a specified contact time.

"Total suspended solids" or "TSS" means a measure of the mass of all suspended solids in a sample typically measured in milligrams per liter (mg/l).

"Treatment level 2 effluent" or "TL-2 effluent" means secondary effluent as defined in 12VAC5-610-120 that has been treated to produce BOD5 and TSS concentrations equal to or less than 30 mg/l each.

"Treatment level 3 effluent" or "TL-3 effluent" means effluent that has been treated to produce BOD5 and TSS concentrations equal to or less than 10 mg/l each.

"Treatment unit" or "treatment system" means a method, technique, equipment, or process other than a septic tank or septic tanks used to treat sewage to produce effluent of a specified quality before the effluent is dispersed to a soil treatment area.

"Turbidity" means a measurement of the relative clarity of effluent as a result of the presence of varying amounts of suspended organic and inorganic materials or color.

"Vertical separation" means the vertical distance between the point of effluent application to the soil or the bottom of a trench or other excavation and a limiting feature of the soil treatment area such as seasonal high ground water, bedrock, or other restriction.

"Wetlands" means those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

12VAC5-613-90

12VAC5-613-90. Performance requirements; ground water protection.

A. The AOSS shall not pose a greater risk of ground water pollution than systems otherwise permitted pursuant to 12VAC5-610. After wastewater has passed through a treatment unit or septic tank and through the soil in the soil treatment area, the concentration of fecal coliform organisms shall not exceed 2.2 cfu/100 ml at the lower vertical limit of the project area boundary.

B. Each large AOSS shall comply with TN limit of 5 mg/l at the project area boundary. Prior to the issuance of a construction permit, the designer shall demonstrate compliance with this requirement through modeling or other calculations. Such demonstration may incorporate multiple nitrogen removal methods such as pretreatment, vegetative uptake (only for AOSSs with shallow soil treatment areas), denitrification, and other viable nitrogen management methods. Ground water and other monitoring may be required at the department's discretion.

C. AOSSs with direct dispersal of effluent to ground water are subject to the following requirements:

1. If the concentration of any constituent in ground water is less than the limits set forth at 9VAC25-280, the natural quality for the constituent shall be maintained; natural quality shall also be maintained for all constituents not set forth in 9VAC25-280. If the concentration of any constituent in ground water exceeds the limit in the standard for that constituent, no addition of that constituent to the naturally occurring concentration shall be made. The commissioner shall consult with the Department of Environmental Quality prior to granting any variance from this subsection.

2. Ground water and laboratory sampling in accordance with 12VAC5-613-100 G.

3. The treatment unit or system shall comply with the following at a minimum:

a. The effluent quality from the treatment unit or system shall be measured prior to the point of effluent application to the soil treatment area and shall be as follows: BOD5 and TSS concentrations each equal to or less than 5 mg/l; fecal coliform concentrations less than or equal to 2.2 col/100 ml as a geometric mean with no sample exceeding 14 col/100 ml; and TN concentration of less than 5 mg/l;

b. High level disinfection is required; and

c. Treatment systems shall incorporate filtration capable of demonstrating compliance with an average turbidity of less than or equal to 2 NTU prior to disinfection.

4. Gravity dispersal to the soil treatment area is prohibited.

5. Loading rates to the soil treatment area shall not exceed the loading rates in Table 1 of this section 12VAC5-613-80.

6. A renewable operating permit shall be obtained and maintained in accordance with 12VAC5-613-60 C.

7. The designer shall provide sufficient hydrogeologic analysis to demonstrate that a proposed AOSS will function as designed for the life of the structure served without degradation of the soil treatment area. This shall include a determination of ground water flow direction and rate.

D. The following additional nutrient requirements apply to all AOSSs in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed:

1. All small AOSSs shall provide a 50% reduction of TN as compared to a conventional gravity drainfield system; compliance with this subdivision may be demonstrated through the following:

a. Compliance with one or more best management practices recognized by the division such as the use of a NSF 245 certified treatment; or

b. Relevant and necessary calculations provided to show one or both of the following:

(1) Effluent TN concentration of 20 mg/l measured prior to application to the soil dispersal field; or

(2) A mass loading of 4.5 lbs N or less per person per year at the project boundary provided that no reduction for N is allotted for uptake or denitrification for the dispersal of effluent below the root zone (>18 inches below the soil surface).

2. All large AOSSs up to and including 10,000 gallons per day shall provide a 50% reduction of TN at the project boundary as compared to a conventional gravity drainfield system. Compliance with this subdivision may be demonstrated as follows:

a. A demonstrated effluent quality of less than or equal to 20 mg/l TN measured prior to application to the soil treatment area; or

b. In situ monitoring of the treatment works within 24 vertical inches of the point of effluent application to the soil treatment area to demonstrate the effluent leaving the treatment works has a TN concentration of less than or equal to 20 mg/l. The designer shall identify an intermediate compliance point within the treatment system and a corresponding TN concentration for use in the event that a representative in situ sample cannot be obtained. The intermediate compliance point and the corresponding TN concentration for use must be approved by the department and shall be conditions of the operation permit.

The AOSS operation permit shall be conditioned upon compliance with the constituent concentrations approved pursuant to this subdivision.

3. All large AOSSs over 10,000 gallons per day shall comply with the following TN requirements:

a. A demonstrated effluent quality of less than or equal to 8 mg/l TN measured prior to application to the soil treatment area; or

b. In situ monitoring of the treatment works within 24 vertical inches of the point of effluent application to the soil treatment area to demonstrate the effluent leaving the treatment works has a TN concentration of less than or equal to 5 mg/l. The designer shall identify an intermediate compliance point within the treatment system and a corresponding TN concentration for use in the event that a representative in situ sample cannot be obtained. The intermediate compliance point and the corresponding TN concentration for use must be approved by the department and shall be conditions of the operation permit.

The AOSS operation permit shall be conditioned upon compliance with the constituent concentrations approved pursuant to this subdivision.

4. For direct dispersal of effluent to groundwater ground water in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, TN concentration shall be less than or equal to 3 mg/l and total phosphorus concentration shall be less than or equal to 0.3 mg/l.

E. When an application is filed to repair or voluntarily upgrade an existing sewage system with an average daily sewage flow of 1,000 gallons per day or less, and the existing sewage system already disperses effluent to ground water as defined in 12VAC5-613-10 and the repair or upgrade must also be direct dispersal due to site conditions, then the repair or upgrade shall not be subject to the requirements of subsection C or subdivision D 4 of this section and 12VAC5-613-100 G. The repair or upgrade shall be subject to the following requirements:

1. A minimum 50% reduction of TN as compared to a conventional gravity drainfield system.

2. Provide TL-3 effluent and standard disinfection in accordance with Table 2 of subdivision 13 of 12VAC5-613-80 for systems with less than 12 inches vertical separation to ground water.

3. Monitoring pursuant to 12VAC5-613-100 D or E as appropriate.

F. Subsection E of this section does not apply to any application for repair or voluntary upgrade when the existing sewage system was installed on or after December 7, 2013, and the existing system was designed to meet the performance requirements for direct dispersal of effluent to ground water as set forth in subsection C or subdivision D 4 of this section and 12VAC5-613-100 G.