Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 32.1. Health
Chapter 6. Environmental Health Services

Article 2.1. Private Well Construction.

§ 32.1-176.1. Short title.

This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Virginia Private Well Construction Act."

1986, c. 401.

§ 32.1-176.2. Findings and policy.

The General Assembly finds that the improper construction of private wells can adversely affect aquifers as ground water resources in the Commonwealth. Consistent with the duty to protect these ground water resources and to safeguard the public welfare, safety and health it is declared to be the policy of this Commonwealth to require that the construction and location of private wells conform to reasonable requirements.

1986, c. 401.

§ 32.1-176.3. Definitions.

As used in this article:

"Construction of wells" means acts necessary to construct wells, including the location of wells.

"Plat" or "survey plat" means the schematic representation of a parcel of land, showing the property boundaries, the proposed site of the water well, and any potential sources of contamination, prepared by an individual licensed by the Commonwealth to perform such services.

"Private well" means any water well constructed for a person on land which is owned or leased by that person and is usually intended for household, ground water source heat pump, agricultural use, industrial use or other nonpublic water well.

"Site plan" means a sketch of a parcel of land, showing the property boundaries, the proposed site of the water well, and any potential sources of contamination.

1986, c. 401; 2009, c. 59.

§ 32.1-176.4. Powers and duties of Board and Department; regulations; fees.

A. The Board shall adopt regulations pertaining to the location and construction of private wells in the Commonwealth. These regulations shall include minimum storage capacity and yield requirements for residential drinking wells. The certified water well systems provider shall certify the storage capacity and the yield of the well on a form provided by the Department at the time the well is completed. The Department shall enforce the provisions of this article and any rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto. However, for private wells located in the Counties of Fairfax, Goochland, James City, Loudoun, Powhatan, and Prince William and the City of Suffolk, the governing body of such county or city may, by ordinance, establish standards which are consistent with Board standards pertaining to location and testing of water therefrom and more stringent than those adopted by the Board pertaining to construction and abandonment. However, any county or city granted these additional powers shall not require certification for drillers of monitoring wells and any recovery wells associated with such monitoring wells.

B. A fee of $40 shall be charged for filing an application for a private well construction permit with the Department. Funds received in payment of such charges shall be transmitted to the Comptroller for deposit. The funds from the fees shall be credited to a special fund to be appropriated by the General Assembly, as it deems necessary, to the Department for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this title. The Board, in its regulations, shall establish a procedure for the waiver of fees for persons whose incomes are below the federal poverty guidelines established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services or when the application is for replacement of a well. If the Department denies the permit for land on which the applicant seeks to construct his principal place of residence, then such fee shall be refunded to the applicant.

From such funds as are appropriated to the Department from the special fund, the Board shall apportion a share to the local or district health departments to be allocated in the same ratios as provided for the operation of such health departments pursuant to § 32.1-31. Such funds shall be transmitted to the local or district health departments on a quarterly basis.

C. The Board's regulations shall provide for the issuance of an express geothermal permit allowing, upon proper registration and payment of application fees, the construction of wells used solely for a closed loop geothermal heating system. The express geothermal permit shall include:

1. A requirement that all well construction be performed by a person holding a valid, appropriate contractor license with water well classification pursuant to Chapter 11 (§ 54.1-1100 et seq.) of Title 54.1;

2. A requirement that the contractor provide a registration statement to the Department prior to beginning construction of the geothermal heating system certifying that the location and construction of the geothermal heating system will comply with the private well regulations;

3. A requirement that the registration statement accurately identify the property location, the owner's name, address, and contact information, and the contractor's name, address, and contact information;

4. A requirement that the registration statement include a detailed site plan, drawn to scale, showing the location of the geothermal heating system and any potential sources of contamination;

5. A provision that construction of the geothermal heating system may begin immediately upon submittal of a proper registration statement; and

6. A provision that a single application and a single fee be required for any geothermal well system. The fee will be equal to the fee for a single private well.

1986, c. 401; 1988, c. 203; 1991, c. 514; 1992, c. 599; 1993, cc. 85, 728, 794; 1994, cc. 141, 747; 1999, c. 633; 2004, c. 72; 2009, cc. 105, 710.

§ 32.1-176.5. Construction permit; local government authority to require analysis of water.

A. Any person intending to construct a private well shall apply to the Department for and receive a permit before proceeding with construction. The permit application shall include a site plan. No survey plat shall be required. In all cases, it shall be the landowner's responsibility to ensure that the water well is properly located on the landowner's property. This permit shall be issued no later than 60 days from application and in accordance with the Board's regulations. In addition, an inspection shall be made after construction to assure that the construction standards are met.

B. The local governing bodies of the Counties of Albemarle, Bedford, Chesterfield, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Goochland, James City, Loudoun, Orange, Powhatan, Prince William, Rappahannock, Stafford, Warren, and York, and the Cities of Chesapeake, Manassas, Manassas Park, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach may by ordinance establish reasonable testing requirements to determine compliance with existing federal or state drinking water quality standards and require that such testing be done prior to the issuance of building permits. Such testing requirements shall apply only to building permit applicants proposing to utilize private ground water wells as their primary potable water source. In developing such an ordinance, the local governing body shall consider (i) the appropriate ground water constituents to be tested using the above standards as guidance, (ii) the reasonable cost of such testing that may be borne by the applicant, and (iii) the availability of certified laboratories to perform such services. However, no such test shall be conducted by Consolidated Laboratories. The applicant shall be notified of the test results with respect to such established standards.

C. Any local governing body referenced in subsection B of this section that has adopted a well abandonment ordinance may require property owners to close and cap abandoned or inactive wells pursuant to that ordinance.

1986, c. 401; 1988, c. 441; 1989, cc. 454, 696; 1990, cc. 544, 547, 661; 1993, c. 794; 1995, c. 220; 1996, c. 202; 1999, c. 633; 2003, c. 500; 2009, c. 59; 2014, c. 599; 2022, cc. 225, 226.

§ 32.1-176.5:1. Department to test for oil contamination; maintain lists of private laboratories.

A. The Department shall disseminate the information on confirmed oil releases and discharges, contained in the Department of Environmental Quality's monthly report prepared pursuant to § 62.1-44.15:4.1, to local health departments and Department field offices. Local health departments and field offices shall make the reports available for public inspection.

B. Upon the request of any person whose private well is located in an area, as defined by the Department, where an oil release or discharge has been confirmed in the reports prepared by the Department of Environment Quality, the Department shall test the water supply of the private well for the presence of oil to determine whether there is risk to public health. The costs of such tests shall be borne by the person requesting the test, unless the Department finds the oil release or discharge poses a potential risk to the health of persons using that private well.

C. The Department shall maintain and make available, upon the request of any person, a list of various private companies located throughout the Commonwealth that possess the technical expertise to analyze water samples for the presence of oil constituents. Any private company providing such laboratory testing services may contact the Department and shall have its name placed on the list. The placement of a company on the list shall not constitute an endorsement of any company or its services.

1998, c. 795.

§ 32.1-176.5:2. Prohibition on private well construction.

A. No private well shall be constructed within 50 feet of the property line with an adjacent property of three acres or larger that is used for an agricultural operation, as defined in § 3.2-300. The following shall be exempt: (i) the owner of the adjacent property that is used for an agricultural operation may grant written permission for construction within 50 feet of the property line; or (ii) certification that no other site on the property complies with the Board's regulations for the construction of a private well.

B. The Department shall accept private site evaluations and designs, in compliance with the Board's regulations for the construction of private wells, designed and certified by a licensed professional engineer, in consultation with a licensed onsite soil evaluator, or by a licensed onsite soil evaluator. The evaluations and designs included within such submissions shall be certified as complying with the Board's regulations implementing this chapter. The Department shall not be required to perform a field check of private evaluations and designs prior to issuing the requested letter, permit, or approval. However, the Department may conduct such review of the work and field analysis as deemed necessary to protect the public health, integrity of the Commonwealth's environment, and the provisions of this chapter.

C. The Department, prior to issuing a permit, shall require any owner applying for a permit to construct a private well pursuant to the exemptions in subsection A to submit documentation that affirms the well construction site complies with the provisions of this section.

2007, c. 403; 2008, c. 62; 2016, c. 90.

§ 32.1-176.6. Inspection.

The Department shall have the authority to conduct such inspections as it may find reasonably necessary to ensure that the construction work conforms to applicable construction standards.

1986, c. 401.

§ 32.1-176.7. Other agencies to cooperate with Department.

The Department of Housing and Community Development and the State Water Control Board shall cooperate fully and promptly with the Department of Health in the administration of this article.

1986, c. 401.