Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Virginia Department of Health
State Board of Health
Onsite Sewage Regulations [12 VAC 5 ‑ 611]
Action Adopt new performance-based regulations pertaining to locating, designing, constructing and operating onsite sewage systems.
Comment Period Ended on 11/12/2008
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11/12/08  4:06 pm
Commenter: Ryan Reed, CPSS #177, President - Virginia Association of Soil Scientists

Agree with Larry Baldwin

I would like to agree with all the information posted by Larry Baldwin.  It is discouraging that organizations on the national level see what a potential health and environmental hazard these new actions can cause if the soils are not properly and professionally evaluated by a trained and, yes, certified individual.  The Commonwealth of Virginia has many Certified Professional Soil Scientists that have specific knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the investigations necessary to determine if the site, whether it be receiving effluent from a conventional or alternative system, is adequate.  Regardless of the system, the effluent must enter the environment via the soil.  The stakeholders involved in this process at one time included members of the Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientist, however, they have now been excluded.  A P.E. should be designing an appropriate system, based on the soil evaluation from a qualified individual, i.e. a CPSS.  Furthermore, the following justification is only one perspective:

"The most likely direct impact of the new regulation on families in the Commonwealth would be economic. Performance standards, most notably the nitrogen standard, have the potential to increase the costs of constructing and operating an onsite system. These cost increases will be felt by individual families. However, the costs need to be weighed against the benefits of improved health protection and cleaner ground and surface waters. Families benefit in many ways, directly and indirectly, from cleaner ground and surface waters- fewer gastrointestinal illnesses related to contaminated water, improved economic opportunity, and esthetic and recreational opportunities.

The Commonwealth has seen great growth in the number of private-sector individuals practicing in the onsite sewage industry. Many of these AOSEs, PEs, installers, and maintenance providers operate small business and family-run business. The agency anticipates that the proposed regulation will improve things for the private sector by bringing some clarity to the requirements for the design, location, and construction of alternative systems. In addition, the new requirements for operation and maintenance of alternative systems should provide expanded business opportunities for these small and family-run operations."

The increased hazard to families of the Commonwealth from individuals to properly evaluating soil and site characteristics could be severe.  As Mr. Baldwin stated in his comment, this is a regression to pre-1070's.

Additionally, more people enter the onsite sewage industry due to no requirements for a specific knowledge and ability for soil and site evaluation, putting many long time small businesses and family-run businesses at risk.  The opportunities for operation and maintenance of the alternative systems is necessary and is a good opportunity for additional businesses, but the soil and site evaluation for the alternative systems should lie soley on those individuals recognized by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation as having the specific knowledge, training, education and abilities, the Certified Professional Soil Scientists.

CommentID: 3956