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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health
Agency 5. Department Of Health
Chapter 590. Waterworks Regulations
6/23/2021

12VAC5-590-380. Bacteriological compliance.

A. The owner needs only to determine the presence or absence of total coliforms and E. coli for routine bacteriological monitoring at entry points or distribution system locations.

B. PMCLs for microbial contaminants.

1. A waterworks is in compliance with the PMCL for E. coli unless any of the conditions identified in this subdivision occur. A violation may pose an acute risk to public health and is a Tier 1 condition requiring public notification as described in 12VAC5-590-540 A 1 when:

a. A repeat sample following a total coliform-positive routine sample is E. coli positive;

b. A repeat sample following an E. coli-positive routine sample is total coliform positive;

c. The owner fails to collect all required repeat samples following an E. coli-positive routine sample; or

d. The owner fails to test for E. coli when any repeat sample tests positive for total coliform.

2. Compliance shall be determined with the PMCL for E. coli for each monitoring period for which monitoring for total coliforms is required.

C. The best available technology (BAT), treatment techniques, or other means available for achieving compliance with the PMCL for E. coli shall be:

1. Protection of wells from contamination by coliforms by appropriate placement, construction, and maintenance of the wells;

2. Maintenance of a detectable residual disinfectant throughout the distribution system;

3. Proper maintenance of the distribution system including appropriate pipe replacement and repair procedures, water main flushing programs, proper operation and maintenance of storage tanks and reservoirs, continual maintenance of positive water pressure in all parts of the distribution system, and an approved cross-connection control program;

4. Filtration and disinfection of a surface water source, a GUDI source, or both; and

5. Disinfection of groundwater using strong oxidants such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or ozone.

D. A total coliform-positive result is indicative of a breakdown in the protective barriers and shall be cause for repeat monitoring and special follow-up action to locate and eliminate the cause of contamination.

1. For each routine sample found to be total coliform positive, the owner shall collect a set of three repeat samples within 24 hours of being notified of the positive result. The department may extend the 24-hour limit on a case-by-case basis. For groundwater systems, the requirements of 12VAC5-590-379 shall also apply, and all repeat samples must be analyzed for E. coli using one of the analytical methods in 40 CFR 141.402(c).

a. The owner shall collect at least one repeat sample from the sampling tap where the original total coliform-positive sample was collected, and at least one repeat sample at a tap within five service connections upstream and at least one repeat sample at a tap within five service connections downstream of the original sampling site. If a total coliform-positive sample is at the end of the distribution system or one service connection away from the end of the distribution system, the owner must still collect all required repeat samples.

b. The owner shall collect an additional set of repeat samples if one or more repeat samples in the current set of repeat samples is total coliform positive. The owner shall collect the additional set of repeat samples within 24 hours of being notified of the positive results, unless the department extends the limit as provided in this section. The owner shall continue to collect additional sets of repeat samples until either total coliforms are not detected in one complete set of repeat samples or the owner determines that a coliform treatment technique trigger specified in 12VAC5-590-392 B has been exceeded as a result of a repeat sample being total coliform positive and notifies the department. If a trigger identified in 12VAC5-590-392 B is exceeded as a result of a routine sample being total coliform positive, then the owner is required to conduct only one round of repeat monitoring for each total coliform-positive routine sample.

c. If the owner collects a routine sample before learning the results of the previous routine sample, and the sample is collected within five service connections of the initial routine sample, then the owner may count the subsequent sample as a repeat sample when the initial sample results are found to be total coliform positive.

d. If one or more repeat samples collected at the monitoring location required for triggered source water monitoring are E. coli positive, then the owner has exceeded the E. coli PMCL and must comply with the groundwater system treatment technique requirements specified in 12VAC5-590-421.

e. If all repeat samples collected at the monitoring location required for triggered source water monitoring are E. coli negative, and a repeat sample collected at a monitoring location other than the one required for triggered source water monitoring is E. coli positive, then the owner has exceeded the E. coli PMCL. However, the owner is not required to collect five additional source water samples from the same source within 24 hours of learning the E. coli-positive result.

f. The owner shall collect all repeat samples on the same day, except the department may allow the owner of a waterworks with a single service connection to collect the required set of repeat samples over a three-day period or to collect a larger volume repeat sample in one or more sample containers of any size as long as the total volume collected is at least 300 ml.

g. If a repeat sample collected at the monitoring location required for triggered source water monitoring is E. coli-positive, then the owner has exceeded the E. coli PMCL and must collect five additional source water samples from the same source within 24 hours of learning the E. coli-positive result.

2. Results of all routine and repeat samples not invalidated by the department shall be used to determine compliance with the PMCL for E. coli and whether a treatment technique trigger specified in 12VAC5-590-392 B has been exceeded.

3. Special-purpose samples, such as those collected to determine whether disinfection practices are sufficient following pipe placement, replacement, or repair, and samples collected before start-up of a seasonal waterworks, shall not be used to determine compliance. Repeat samples are not considered special-purpose samples.

E. A total coliform-positive sample invalidated under this subsection does not count toward meeting the minimum monitoring requirements of this section. To invalidate a total coliform-positive sample under this subsection, the written decision and rationale shall be evaluated, approved, and signed by the department. The department shall make this document available to EPA and the public. The written documentation shall state the specific cause of the total coliform-positive sample and what action the owner has taken, or will take, to correct this problem. The department shall not invalidate a total coliform-positive sample solely on the grounds that all repeat samples are total coliform negative.

1. The department may invalidate a total coliform positive sample if any of the following conditions are met:

a. The laboratory establishes that improper sample analysis caused the total coliform-positive result;

b. The department, on the basis of the results of repeat samples collected as required by subdivision D 1 of this section, determines that the total coliform-positive sample resulted from a domestic or other nondistribution system plumbing problem. The department cannot invalidate a sample on the basis of repeat sample results unless all repeat samples collected at the same tap as the original total coliform-positive sample are also total coliform positive, and all repeat samples collected at a location other than the original tap are total coliform negative (e.g., the department cannot invalidate a total coliform-positive sample on the basis of repeat samples if all the repeat samples are total coliform negative or if the waterworks has only one service connection); or

c. The department has substantial grounds to believe that a total coliform-positive result is due to a circumstance or condition that does not reflect water quality in the distribution system. In this case, the owner shall still collect all repeat samples required under subdivision D 1 of this section, and use them to determine whether a coliform treatment technique trigger in 12VAC5-590-392 B has been exceeded.

2. A laboratory must invalidate a sample because of sampling interference (i.e., turbid culture in absence of (i) gas production, or (ii) acid reaction; exhibition of confluent growth; or production of colonies too numerous to count). The owner shall collect a replacement sample from the same location within 24 hours, and have it analyzed for the presence of total coliforms. The owner must continue to resample within 24 hours and have the samples analyzed until a valid result is obtained. The department may waive the 24-hour time limit on a case-by-case basis.

F. Escherichia coli (E. coli).

1. If a routine, repeat, or replacement sample is total coliform positive, then the owner shall analyze the total coliform-positive culture medium to determine if E. coli are present. If E. coli are present, then the owner shall notify the department by the end of the day when the owner is notified of the test result, unless the department is closed, in which case the department must be notified before the end of the next business day.

2. The department has the discretion to allow an owner, on a case-by-case basis, to forgo E. coli testing on a total coliform-positive sample if the owner assumes that the total coliform-positive sample is E. coli positive. Accordingly, the owner must notify the department as specified in subdivision F 1 of this subsection and the provisions of subdivision B 1 of this section apply.

G. Groundwater sources.

1. Groundwater sources shall be disinfected in accordance with 12VAC5-590-421 A 1 d when the results of the source water monitoring samples specified in 12VAC5-590-430 B 2 or 12VAC5-590-840 K 1 a indicate a total coliform concentration (geometric mean) of the 20 samples to be greater than 3 colonies/100 mL but less than 100 colonies/100 mL. The value 1.0 shall be used to represent a zero coliform result in the calculation of the geometric mean.

2. Groundwater source monitoring results conducted in accordance with 12VAC5-590-430 B 2 or 12VAC5-590-840 K 1 a that indicate a total coliform concentration equal to or greater than 100 colonies/100 ml constitutes contamination that is not treatable by single-barrier disinfection treatment alone.

3. Groundwater sources shall be disinfected in accordance the requirements of 12VAC5-590-421 A 1 d when the source water quality contributes to the waterworks' failure to meet the bacteriological PMCL specified in subsection B of this section.

4. If the results of the source water monitoring required by 12VAC5-590-379 C or 12VAC5-590-430 B 2 indicate the presence of E. coli in two or more samples collected during any running six-month period, then the owner shall:

a. Issue a Tier 1 public notice in accordance with 12VAC5-590-540 A 1.

b. Provide disinfection treatment to achieve a 4-log virus inactivation and removal as specified in 12VAC5-590-421 A 1 d.

c. Conduct compliance monitoring as specified in 12VAC5-590-421 B and 12VAC5-590-421 C.

5. If the results of the source water monitoring required in 12VAC5-590-379 C indicate total coliform concentration in excess of 50 colonies/100 mL in three or more samples collected during any running six-month period or the presence of E. coli in two or more samples collected during any running six-month period, then the source water shall be reevaluated for GUDI determination in accordance with 12VAC5-590-430.

6. The department may require that any groundwater source be disinfected in accordance with the requirements of 12VAC5-590-421 A 1 d.

H. All samples shall be analyzed by laboratories that have received certification by EPA or DCLS as specified in 12VAC5-590-440 for drinking water analyses.

Statutory Authority

§§ 32.1-12 and 32.1-170 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR355-18-004.05 § 2.5, eff. August 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 9, Issue 17, eff. June 23, 1993; Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003; Volume 28, Issue 5, eff. December 7, 2011; Volume 33, Issue 3, eff. November 2, 2016; Volume 37, Issue 20, eff. June 23, 2021.

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