|Action||Adopt new performance-based regulations pertaining to locating, designing, constructing and operating onsite sewage systems.|
|Comment Period||Ended on 11/12/2008|
Premier Tech Environment ("PTE") generally supports the proposed effort (NOIRA 12 VAC 5-611) to improve upon the current onsite rules found in 12 VAC 5-610 et seq. ("current rules"), but with some caveats and concerns. First and foremost, the new rule development process must be transparent and fair for all stakeholders, not only to comply with rulemaking and other legal requirements, but in order for the resulting rules and policies to carefully balance competing interests and achieve some level of consensus or consent from the regulated community. Second, the current rules and associated “gmp” documents, as dated or imperfect as they may be, are still valuable benchmarks and cannot be ignored; they must be used to help inform the content of the new rules. Third, specifically with regard to the referenced policy of engineer proposals without prescriptive limitations, where only performance standards will apply, there must be meaningful scrutiny of such designs and some level of consistency and uniformity with other applicable onsite standards of review, performance and approval. To the extent that the current NOIRA for 12 VAC 5-611 constitutes anything more than an invitation for input and comment on the general idea of promulgating new rules, i.e., to the extent that this NOIRA will be cited as setting any type of legal precedent or supporting certain specific policies expressed therein, there has been insufficient time and opportunity allowed for stakeholder involvement, especially as there is no specific text to consider for such policies. PTE looks forward to working together with all stakeholders and regulatory officials in developing up to date and improved onsite wastewater rules for the Commonwealth of Virginia.