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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health
Agency 5. Department of Health
Chapter 610. Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations

12VAC5-610-120. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Agent" means a legally authorized representative of the owner.

"Alluvial soil" means a soil developing from recently deposited alluvium and exhibiting essentially no horizon development or modification of the recently deposited materials.

"Alluvium" means mineral materials, either weathered or unweathered, that are transported by flowing water and deposited or redeposited in a flood-plain or marine terrace.

"Aquifer" means water-bearing portion of a geologic formation that transmits water.

"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).

"Certification letter" means a letter issued by the commissioner, in lieu of a construction permit, that identifies a specific site and recognizes the appropriateness of the site for an onsite wastewater disposal system.

"Colluvial soil" means a soil developing from recently deposited colluvium and exhibiting essentially no horizon development or modification of the recently deposited materials.

"Colluvium" means an accumulation of soil material, or a mixture of stone fragments and soil material, deposited at the base of slopes or in depressional areas, primarily by gravity.

"Commissioner" means the State Health Commissioner or his subordinate who has been delegated powers in accordance with subdivision 2 of 12VAC5-610-40.

"Cr horizon" means weathered or soft bedrock and is used to indicate root restrictive layers or bedrock or saprolite.

"Dilution area" means the land immediately adjacent to and down gradient, in the direction of ground water flow, from a mass sewage disposal system, that is provided for the purpose of diluting nitrogen, or other nutrients occurring in wastewater, with ambient ground water, in order to assure compliance with nutrient standards contained in this chapter.

"District health department" means a consolidation of local health departments as authorized in § 32.1-31 C of the Code of Virginia.

"Division" means the Division of Onsite Sewage and Water Services, Office of Environmental Health Services, State Health Department, or its administrative successor.

"Existing construction" (with failing sewage disposal systems) means an existing structure where the sewage disposal system serving the structure has failed or is currently in violation of state law or regulations and requires correction.

"General approval" means approval granted to systems that are proven and tested in accordance with Article 2 (12VAC5-610-441 et seq.) of Part II of this chapter.

"Grandfathered lot" means:

1. Any lot upon which no permit has been issued and which is in a subdivision approved by the department prior to July 1, 2000, in accordance with a local subdivision ordinance. Individual lots may or may not have been evaluated; or

2. Any lot, parcel, or portion thereof with a previously issued permit or a specific written approval (not including a certification letter) from the department.

"Gray color" means a chroma-2 or less on the Munsell Color Chart.

"Impervious strata" means soil or soil materials with an estimated or measured percolation rate in excess of 120 minutes per inch.

"Infiltrative surface" means the designated interface where effluent moves from distribution piping, media, and fill to natural soil.

"Local health department" means a branch of the State Health Department established in each city and county in accordance with § 32.1-30 of the Code of Virginia.

"Mass sewage disposal system" means a sewage disposal system or systems that will discharge effluent to a single absorption area or multiple absorption areas with or without combined flows, such that the loading rate applied to any acre, as determined by the department, exceeds 1,200 gallons per day.

"Mineral soil" means a soil consisting predominantly of, and having its properties determined predominantly by, mineral matter. A mineral soil usually contains less than 20% organic matter, but it may contain an organic surface layer up to 12 inches thick.

"New construction" means construction of a building for which a building permit is required.

"Office" means the Office of Environmental Health Services, State Health Department.

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

"Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, or any other legal entity.

"Previously issued permit" means any permit issued prior to July 1, 2000, and in accordance with the regulations in effect at the time the permit was issued. There is no distinction between an expired permit and one that has been continually renewed.

"Pump and haul" means any unusual circumstance wherein sewage is permitted to be transported by vehicle to a point of disposal. The term "pump and haul" includes all facilities and appurtenances necessary to collect and store the sewage for handling by a contractor having a valid sewage handling permit.

"Rock" or "bedrock" means continuous, coherent, lithologic material that has relative hardness depending on the degree of weathering. Bedrock has characteristics such as strike, dip, jointing, and lithological compositions. Structure and water movement are rock controlled. Bedrock grinds with an auger, and mechanical penetration is more difficult or prevented as the material gets harder.

"Saprolite" means material weathered from igneous or metamorphic rock, without soil structure, and with remnant structure and fabric of the parent rock which is soft in place and can be penetrated easily with an auger.

"Secondary effluent" means effluent treated to reduce five-day biochemical oxygen demand to 30 mg/l or less, total suspended solids to 30 mg/l or less, and fats, oils, and grease to less than 5 mg/l.

"Septic tank effluent" means effluent characterized by a five-day biochemical oxygen demand between 120 and 200 mg/l; total suspended solids between 70 and 150 mg/l; fats, oils, and grease of 30 mg/l or less; and having no other toxic, hazardous, or constituents not routinely found in residential wastewater flows.

"Septage" means the mat of grease and scum on the surface of septic tanks, the accumulated sludge at the bottom of tanks and the sewage present at the time of pumping.

"Sewage" means water-carried and nonwater-carried human excrement, kitchen, laundry, shower, bath, or lavatory wastes separately or together with such underground, surface, storm, or other water and liquid industrial wastes as may be present from residences, buildings, vehicles, industrial establishments, or other places.

"Sewage disposal system" means a sewerage system or treatment works designed not to result in a point source discharge.

"Sewage handler" means any person who removes or contracts to remove and transports by vehicle the contents of any septic tank, sewage treatment plant, privy, holding tank, portable toilet, or any sewage, septage, or sewage sludges that have been processed to meet acceptable treatment standards as defined in this chapter or the Sewage Regulations (12VAC5-580-10 et seq.).

"Sewage handling" means the vehicular conveyance of sewage (See "Transportation" in § 32.1-163 of the Code of Virginia).

"Sewerage system" means pipe lines or conduits, pumping stations and force mains and all other construction, devices, and appliances appurtenant thereto, used for the collection and conveyance of sewage to a treatment works or point of ultimate disposal.

"Shrink-swell soils" means soils with horizons that contain montmorillonite and other clays that excessively shrink upon drying and swell upon wetting.

"Sink hole" means a depression in the topography without a surface outlet for drainage from the low point. Sink holes are common in areas containing limestone and generally result from the collapse of solution cavities.

"Soil" means the weathered mineral and organic fraction of the earth's regolith, which is less than or equal to 2.0 mm in size as observed in place. Soil comprises sands, silts, or clays or combinations of these textured components and may contain larger aggregate materials such as gravel, cobbles, stones, or channers or precipitates from aqueous solution. Soil includes the A, O, B, C, and E horizons.

"Soil horizon" means a layer of soil or soil material approximately parallel to the land surface and different from adjacent genetically related layers in physical, chemical, and biological properties or characteristics such as color, structure, texture, consistency, kinds, and numbers of organisms present, degree of acidity or alkalinity, etc.

"Subdivision" means multiple building lots derived from a parcel or parcels of land.

"Subsurface soil absorption" means a process which utilizes the soil to treat and dispose of effluent from a treatment works. (Also see "Subsurface drainfield" in § 32.1-163 of the Code of Virginia).

"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 this section 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 used to treat sewage to produce effluent of a specified quality before the effluent is dispersed to a soil treatment area.

"Treatment works" means any device or system used in the storage, treatment, disposal, or reclamation of sewage or combinations of sewage and industrial wastes, including pumping, power, and other equipment and appurtenances, septic tanks, and any works, including land, that are or will be (i) an integral part of the treatment process or (ii) used for ultimate disposal of residues or effluent resulting from such treatment.

"Working volume" means the volume in a pump tank between the pump off level and the high water alarm level.

Statutory Authority

§§ 32.1-12 and 32.1-164 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR355-34-02 § 1.12, eff. February 5, 1986; amended, eff. May 11, 1988; Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 16, eff. July 1, 2000; Volume 39, Issue 4, eff. November 24, 2022.

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