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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health
Agency 5. Department of Health
Chapter 613. Regulations for Alternative Onsite Sewage Systems

12VAC5-613-80. Performance requirements; general.

All AOSS designed, constructed, and operated pursuant to this chapter shall comply with the following performance requirements unless waived pursuant to 12VAC5-613-210:

1. The presence of raw or partially treated sewage on the ground's surface or in adjacent ditches or waterways is prohibited;

2. The exposure of insects, animals, or humans to raw or partially treated sewage is prohibited;

3. The backup of sewage into plumbing fixtures is prohibited;

4. The direct dispersal of effluent into ground water shall comply with 12VAC5-613-90 C;

5. All treatment units and treatment systems shall be designed for the anticipated receiving wastewater characteristics and peak flow;

6. Dosing of the treatment unit or treatment system shall accommodate the design peak flow within the treatment unit's rated capacity;

7. The AOSS shall be designed so that all components are of sufficient structural integrity to minimize the potential of physical harm to humans and animals;

8. The conveyance system for any AOSS shall be designed and installed with sufficient structural integrity to resist inflow and infiltration and to maintain forward flow;

9. The AOSS shall be designed to minimize noise, odor, or other nuisances at the property boundary;

10. Maximum trench bottom hydraulic loading rates for pressure-dosed systems using TL-2 and TL-3 effluent are found in Table 1 and are to be used as follows:

a. The designer is responsible for reducing loading rates according to the features and properties of the soils in the soil treatment area as well as for reducing loading rates for other types of dispersal;

b. Adherence to the maximum trench bottom hydraulic loading rate criteria herein does not assure or guarantee that other performance requirements of this chapter, including effluent dispersal or ground water quality, will be met. It is the designer's responsibility to ensure that the proposed design is adequate to achieve all performance requirements of this chapter;

c. Trench bottom hydraulic loading rates for pressure-dosed systems shall not exceed the values in Table 1;

d. Hydraulic loading rates shall be incrementally reduced from the TL-2 values in Table 1 when a treatment unit or system is not designed to achieve TL-2 or TL-3. In such cases, the designer shall, for monitoring purposes, specify the effluent quality of the treatment unit. If the specified BOD5 exceeds 60 mg/l, the designer shall use loading rates for septic tank effluent;

e. Trench bottom hydraulic loading rates for gravity dosed systems shall be reduced from the values in Table 1; and

f. Area hydraulic loading rates for systems such as drip dispersal, pads, and mounds shall be reduced from the values in Table 1 and shall reflect standard engineering practice.

Table 1
Maximum Pressure-Dosed Trench Bottom Hydraulic Loading Rates

Percolation Rate

Saturated hydraulic
conductivity (cm/day)

TL-2 Effluent

TL-3 Effluent


> 17



15 to 25

15 to 17



>25 to 45

10 to < 15



>45 to 90

4 to < 10




< 4



11. Septic tank effluent may only be discharged to a soil treatment area when the vertical separation to a limiting feature consists of at least 18 inches of naturally-occurring, in-situ soil. AOSSs designed to disperse septic tank effluent require at least 12 inches of soil cover over the soil treatment area;

12. Whenever the depth to a permeability limiting feature on the naturally occurring site is less than 18 inches as measured from the ground surface, whenever the treatment works does not provide at least 18 inches of vertical separation to a permeability limiting feature, or whenever the design is for a large AOSS, then the following shall apply:

a. The designer shall demonstrate that (i) the site is not flooded during the wet season, (ii) there is a hydraulic gradient sufficient to move the applied effluent off the site, and (iii) water mounding will not adversely affect the functioning of the soil treatment area or create ponding on the surface;

b. For large AOSSs, the department may require the owner to monitor the degree of saturation beneath the soil treatment area to verify that water mounding is not affecting the vertical separation; and

c. For any system in which artificial drainage is proposed as a method to meet the requirements of this chapter, the designer shall provide calculations or other documentation sufficient to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed drainage.

13. The following minimum effluent quality shall be met for the described vertical separation to limiting feature as measured from the point of effluent application or the bottom of the trench or other excavation:

Table 2
Minimum Effluent Requirements for Vertical Separation to Limiting Features

Vertical Separation

Minimum Effluent Quality

≥18" (requires naturally occurring, undisturbed soils)


<18" to 12" (requires minimum 6" of naturally occurring, undisturbed soils)


0" to <12"

TL-3 and standard disinfection*

*Note: Where direct dispersal of effluent to ground water occurs, effluent quality shall be governed by 12VAC5-613-90 C.

14. The designer shall specify methods and materials that will achieve the performance requirements of this chapter whenever sand, soil, or soil-like material is used to increase the vertical separation.

15. All treatment units or treatment systems shall prevent the bulking of solids to the treatment area.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 28, Issue 5, eff. December 7, 2011.

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