2016 Uncodified Acts

2016 Virginia Uncodified Acts


An Act to direct the State Health Commissioner to develop a plan to eliminate evaluation and design services by the Department of Health for onsite sewage systems and private wells; report.

[H 558]

Approved March 11, 2016


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. § 1. That the State Health Commissioner (the Commissioner) shall develop a plan for the orderly reduction and elimination of evaluation and design services by the Department of Health (the Department) for onsite sewage systems and private wells. The plan shall provide for the protection of public health as the Department transitions to accepting only applications that are supported with private site evaluations and designs from a licensed professional engineer or licensed onsite soil evaluator or, for any work subject to regulations governing private wells in the Commonwealth, by a licensed water well system provider.

The plan shall include (i) provisions related to transparency of costs for services provided by the private sector, including options available, necessary disclosures for cost of installation and operation and maintenance, and recommendations to resolve disputes that might arise from private sector designs, warranties, or installations; (ii) a date by which all site evaluations and designs will be performed by the private sector; (iii) a transition timeline to incrementally eliminate site evaluations and designs provided by the Department to fully transition all such services to the private sector; (iv) procedures and minimum requirements for the Department's review of private evaluations and designs; (v) a timeline to incrementally require private evaluations and designs for certain categories of services such as applications for subdivision review, certification letters, voluntary upgrades, repairs, submissions previously accompanied by private sector work, new construction, and reviews pursuant to § 32.1-165 of the Code of Virginia; (vi) a recommendation concerning whether the Department can reduce or eliminate services in a particular area on the basis of the number and availability of licensed private-sector professional engineers and onsite soil evaluators and licensed water well system providers to provide services in that particular area; (vii) necessary changes to application fees in order to encourage private sector evaluations and designs and projected schedules for those changes; (viii) a recommendation concerning the need to establish a fund to assist income-eligible citizens with repairing failing onsite sewage systems and private wells; (ix) provisions for disclosing to the consumer that an option to install a conventional onsite sewage system exists in the event that an evaluator or designer specifies an alternative onsite sewage system where the site conditions will allow a conventional system to be installed; (x) provisions for involvement by the Department in resolving disputes that may arise between the consumer and the private sector service providers related to evaluations or designs of onsite sewage systems and private wells; (xi) provisions for the continued provision of evaluation and design services by the Department in areas that are underserved by the private sector; (xii) necessary improvements in other services performed by the Department that may derive from the transition to private evaluations and designs, including programmatic oversight; inspections; review procedures; data collection, analysis, and dissemination; quality assurance; environmental health surveillance and enforcement; timely correction of failing onsite sewage systems and determination of reasons for failure; operation and maintenance; health impacts related to onsite sewage systems; and water quality, including impacts of onsite sewage systems on the Chesapeake Bay; (xiii) an analysis of the ranges of costs to the consumer for evaluation and design services currently charged by the Department and ranges of the potential costs to the consumer for such services if provided by the private sector, and (xiv) legislative, regulatory, or policy changes necessary to implement the plan.

The Commissioner shall present an interim report or the completed plan and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly by November 15, 2016.