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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 12. Health
Agency 5. Department of Health
Chapter 640. Alternative Discharging Sewage Treatment Regulations for Individual Single Family Dwellings
6/27/2022

12VAC5-640-420. Setback distances from discharge points and downstream channels for the protection of public health.

A. Discharges proposed within one mile (upstream or up channel) of any public water intake shall not be permitted.

B. Discharges proposed within one mile upstream or up channel of any area explicitly designated for public swimming shall not be permitted.

C. When any river, stream, or other potential discharge area appears to receive significant primary contact use, such as, but not limited to, swimming, water skiing, tubing, or wet-wading, so that the discharge will pose a significant threat to public health, the district health director may require a higher level of treatment and reliability class for the permitted discharge facility.

D. The district health director, in consultation with the local governing authority and the department, may prohibit discharges into specified portions of the river, stream, or other potential discharge area. Prior to taking such action, the health director shall take the following steps:

1. Publish a notice announcing the department's intention to consider areas for restricting the use of discharging systems, establishing the date, time and location or locations of the public meeting or meetings, and soliciting public comment on the proposed area or areas being reviewed;

2. Request the opinion of the local governing body and other appropriate government agencies concerning proposed restrictions to be submitted before the close of the public comment period;

3. Have a public comment period on the proposal of not less than 30 days;

4. Hold at least one public meeting, 30 days or more after publication of the notice specified in subdivision 1 of this subsection; and

5. Evaluate the public comments received and staff evaluations regarding the use of the proposed area or areas for primary contact uses.

When in the best professional opinion of the health director the area or areas under consideration receives, for 30 days or more per year, significant primary contact uses, such that the discharge will pose a significant threat to public health, the director may designate areas where discharge systems are prohibited. Prohibited discharge areas may include areas upstream in the main channel and tributaries, from the area under review, for distances up to one mile if warranted by the evidence. Prohibited discharge areas shall be clearly defined in writing and delineated on a United States Geological Survey 7.5 minute topographic map. The prohibition on discharges, if any are found necessary, shall be effective upon notice after completion of the elements contained in this section.

E. The wastewater treatment system (tankage and components), shall be a minimum of 50 feet from private and public water wells and private cisterns. The discharge point and the channel of treated effluent flow shall be located in accordance with the distances given in Table 3.1 from private and public water wells and cisterns. Where the bottom elevation of a cistern is located above the elevation of the discharge point, the setback distances shall not apply. The setback distances between the water well or cistern and the downstream channel established in Table 3.1 shall apply for 50 feet downstream of the discharge point for all weather streams and 500 feet downstream for intermittent stream or dry ditch discharges. For wetlands where the flow path can be established, generally where the slope is 10% or greater, the setback distances between the water well or the cistern and the "downstream channel" shall apply for 250 feet downstream of the discharge point. For wetlands where the flow path cannot be established, generally where the slope is less than 10%, then the distance shall be measured radially for 250 feet from the point of discharge.

F. Setback distances to other wells not covered in Table 3.1 of this section, such as geothermal and gas wells, will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

G. No discharging system or any portion of the channel carrying the treated effluent flow shall be within 100 feet of a spring. Further, no discharging system shall discharge within 1,500 feet upstream or 100 feet downstream of any spring used for human consumption.

H. Discharging systems are prohibited from discharging directly into sink holes or into dry ditches, intermittent streams, wetlands, streams, or other waterways that flow into sink holes within 1,500 feet from the point of discharge.

I. Dry ditch discharges shall not have limestone outcrops within the dry ditch channel. This provision shall apply for a distance of 50 feet along the channel.

J. Except as noted below, the department will not approve discharging systems except where discharge points will be at least 500 feet apart. The separation distance may be reduced to 250 feet between discharge points in accordance with the following:

1. For discharges to an all weather stream, the distance may be reduced to 250 feet by providing a Reliability Class II facility.

2. For discharges to a dry ditch or intermittent stream, the distance may be reduced to 250 feet by providing a Reliability Class I system that produces a TL-3 effluent and a fecal coliform concentration of 100 col/100 ml or less.

3. No reduction in the distance between discharge points is allowed for discharges to wetlands.

K. No discharge shall be permitted under this chapter which will result in the condemnation of shellfish waters or the continued condemnation of shellfish waters closed only because of inadequate water quality.

TABLE 3.1 SETBACK DISTANCES FROM PRIVATE AND PUBLIC WATER WELLS AND CISTERNS
(All distances are in feet)

Type of Water Supply

Distance from Point of Discharge

Distance from Downstream Channel

Discharge to All Weather Stream

Discharge to Wetland2, Intermittent Stream, or Dry Ditch

Class I1 Well

100

100

100

Class II1 Well

100

100

100

Class IIIA Well

50

50

50

Class IIIB Well

50

50

50

Class IIIC Well

100

50

100

Class IV Well

100

50

100

Cistern

100

50

100

1Class I and II well specifications are found in the Waterworks Regulations (12VAC5-590). All other well specifications may be found in the Private Well Regulations (12VAC5-630).

2The downstream "channel" of a wetland where the flow path can be established shall be a minimum of 25 feet wide and approximately centered on the flow path. Where the flow path cannot be established in a wetland, then the distance shall be measured radially from the point of discharge.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR355-34-400 § 3.4, eff. July 30, 1992; amended, Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 6, eff. December 16, 2015.

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