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

12VAC5-610-441. Special permits for experimental methods, process and equipment.

Article 2
Systems with Experimental or Provisional Approval

A. New construction. Sewage treatment and disposal methods, processes, and equipment which (i) are not covered by criteria in Part V (12VAC5-610-660 et seq.) of this chapter and (ii) in principle and/or application are new or unconventional are subject to a special permitting procedure in lieu of that set forth in 12VAC5-610-250. All applications for such processes, methods, and equipment shall be made to the division through the district or local health department.

1. Submission of data on experimental methods, processes, and equipment. The policy of the division is to encourage the development of any new methods, processes, and equipment which appear to have application for the treatment and disposal of sewage; however, new developments shall have been thoroughly tested in a full scale or representative pilot system utilizing this process and equipment. Results of this testing must be submitted to the division. The testing required on new developments will generally follow the following guidelines:

a. All procedures used in validating the process shall be conducted under the supervision of a faculty member in an appropriate program of an accredited college or university, a licensed professional engineer experienced in the field of sanitary engineering, or by a testing firm acceptable to the division.

b. The tests shall be performed under maximum design conditions and over extended periods of time in the geographical area of the proposed installation.

c. The data shall be from a continuous operation of a full scale or pilot installation treating or conveying the type of sewage to be handled.

d. Flow measuring equipment shall be provided and total flow shall be recorded daily.

e. The minimum sampling and analysis program will be established by the division in accordance with the process under investigation.

f. All analyses will be made in accordance with Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 1992 (American Public Health Association), or analytical methods approved by the division.

g. The sampling shall establish the impact of the experimental sewage treatment and disposal methods, processes, or equipment on ground water and public health.

h. The application shall identify and suggest operation and maintenance guidelines for the process or components of the process.

2. Detailed plans must be submitted showing how, in case of noncompliance, the method, equipment or process will be converted to or replaced with a proven system. In order to assure that funds are available to convert or replace the experimental method, equipment or process with a proven system, bonding or other assurances shall be provided. A proven system shall be a Type I, II, or III system, a point source discharge system or connection to an existing approved sewerage system or treatment works. The application for the experimental system shall be accompanied by one of the following: (i) a Virginia Pollution Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit, or (ii) a General Permit Registration Statement issued by the Department of Environmental Quality and a construction permit for an alternative discharging sewage treatment system issued by the commissioner, or (iii) certification from the owner of the existing sewage system or treatment works that connection is available, or (iv) a valid construction permit for a Type I, II, or III system.

3. Issuance of a construction permit. After review of the plans and testing data by the division and approval of a proven system (see subdivision 2 of this subsection), the commissioner shall issue a construction permit in accordance with the procedures in 12VAC5-610-250 if reasonably satisfied that the method, process, or equipment will provide satisfactory sewage disposal.

4. Issuance of an experimental operation permit. Upon completion of construction or modification, a permit to operate for a definite period of time will be issued for the operation of the experimentally approved methods, processes and equipment. The number of experimental systems of similar design characteristics to be installed for an evaluation period shall be determined by the division and where soil dependent systems are utilized, the number shall be limited to not more than four for each physiographic province (see Appendix K). There shall be no limit on the number of experimental systems allowed to be installed when an approved back-up system is constructed in accordance with subdivision 2 of this subsection and plumbing is provided to the back-up system. In this instance, a flow diversion valve shall be installed to divert wastewater flow between the two systems as necessary. The experimental permit to operate the experimental system shall require that the evaluation period be a minimum of 18 months and no longer than 36 months, under design conditions, and the holder of the experimental operation permit shall submit reports on operation during the evaluation period as required by the division.

5. Issuance of an operation permit. The commissioner shall issue an operation permit upon expiration of the experimental permit if, on the basis of testing during that period, the division finds that the experimental method, processes or equipment provides satisfactory sewage disposal. If these conditions are not met, then the commissioner shall issue an order which will require the owner to alter the sewage disposal system in a manner that will enable the conditions to be met.

B. Existing construction. Sewage treatment and disposal methods, processes and equipment (i) are not covered by the criteria in Part V (12VAC5-610-660 et seq.) of this chapter and (ii) in principle and/or application are new or unconventional may be utilized where a conventional sewage disposal system serving an occupied dwelling has failed and it is not possible to provide an alternate sewage disposal system having a discharge to state waters. The procedures for obtaining a permit for such systems shall generally follow those set forth in subsection A of this section with the following exceptions:

1. The detailed plans required need not show how in case of nonacceptance the sewage disposal system will be converted to or replaced with a proven process nor are bonds or assurances required;

2. More than four permits for soil dependent experimental systems of similar design characteristics may be issued per physiographic province; and

3. If the disposal system fails to work satisfactorily on a year-round basis, further correction to the system may be required.

C. Issuance of design and construction criteria. When sewage treatment and disposal methods, processes or equipment have demonstrated satisfactory performance and operational competence to the satisfaction of the commissioner, by completing the experimental process or by similar rigorous testing in other states or countries, provisional system approval shall be granted and design and construction criteria shall be developed in accordance with this article. If the wastewater to be treated is substantially different in flow or characteristics from one which was used during testing, the commissioner shall require the issuance of an experimental operating permit and further testing conducted until operational competence is demonstrated. The criteria shall include, at a minimum, the siting criteria, design and construction standards, performance, monitoring and service requirements of the methods, processes and equipment.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 16, eff. July 1, 2000.

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