Alternative onsite sewage systems; sampling. (SB1577)

Introduced By

Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Alternative onsite sewage systems; sampling. Prohibits the State Board of Health's program on alternative onsite sewage systems from requiring effluent sampling from certain alternative onsite sewage systems except in response to a complaint or as part of a random inspection conducted by the Department of Health. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/20/2017Presented and ordered printed 17102108D
01/20/2017Referred to Committee on Education and Health
01/23/2017Assigned Education sub: Health
01/24/2017Impact statement from VDH (SB1577)
02/02/2017Committee substitute printed 17105133D-S1
02/02/2017Reported from Education and Health with substitute (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/03/2017Impact statement from VDH (SB1577S1)
02/03/2017Constitutional reading dispensed (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/06/2017Floor substitute printed 17105230D-S2 (Ruff)
02/06/2017Read second time
02/06/2017Committee substitute rejected 17105133D-S1
02/06/2017Reading of substitute waived
02/06/2017Substitute by Senator Ruff agreed to 17105230D-S2
02/06/2017Engrossed by Senate - floor substitute SB1577S2
02/06/2017Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/06/2017Passed Senate (37-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2017Impact statement from VDH (SB1577S2)
02/08/2017Placed on Calendar
02/08/2017Read first time
02/08/2017Referred to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions
02/10/2017Assigned HWI sub: Subcommittee #3
02/14/2017Reported from Health, Welfare and Institutions with substitute (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/14/2017Committee substitute printed 17105476D-H1
02/15/2017Read second time
02/15/2017Impact statement from VDH (SB1577H1)
02/16/2017Read third time
02/16/2017Committee substitute agreed to 17105476D-H1
02/16/2017Engrossed by House - committee substitute SB1577H1
02/16/2017Passed House with substitute BLOCK VOTE (97-Y 0-N)
02/16/2017VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (97-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/20/2017House substitute agreed to by Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/20/2017Title replaced 17105476D-H1
02/22/2017Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB1577ER)
02/22/2017Impact statement from VDH (SB1577ER)
02/22/2017Signed by President
02/22/2017Signed by Speaker
02/23/2017Enrolled Bill Communicated to Governor on 2/23/17
02/23/2017G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017
03/13/2017G Approved by Governor-Chapter 476 (effective 7/1/17)
03/13/2017G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0476)


William Sledjeski writes:

Strongly oppose this bill, this is a serious issue. As a minimum biannual effluent testing should be required. These systems have limited soil treatment and require a continually
functioning system to be effective. No other way to testthe efficieny of the system except through continued testing protocol. I am a 40+ year licensed soil scientist and authorized onsite wastewater evaluator.

JT Walker writes:

Although testing requirements has been in effect for over 7 years there has been no useful result, but considerable private expense. Indeed we see no public benefit, there is no database reporting results nor any correlation between test results and the disparate factors which affect performance (e.g. household size, type of equipment, time or method of sampling, O&M etc). Furthermore this burden only affects systems utilizing advanced treatment, not the majority of systems which seem to function as primitive "horizontal cesspools" conventional systems installed in problem soils have become a greater problem than the public is aware. This is yet another penalty for citizens willing to invest in equipment which assures a safe and reliable system serves their home. and in my opinion the sampling requirement is ill considered; the results have little meaning and there is no database reporting results, nor decisions made on the basis of the results. An operator who senses a problem duty to opacity, odor, or other factors can elect to sample and test for BOD, but as the regulation stands it constitutes a punitive requirement for testing; which has been arbitrarily enforced, yields data of little utility and has not be integrated into the data set which would be useful to the public, designers, operators or regulators.

Thomas Johns writes:

Removing the undue burden of testing is a benefit to those owners who elect to install a more environmentally friendly treatment system.

What the previous 40 licensed soil scientist forgot to mention is that the CONVENTIONAL system type is more dangerous to our environment. Current Health Department regulation only specifies for the dispersal of septic effluent with no regard to TREATMENT. As professionals incorporate treatment into modern designs, it removes any necessity to rely on the prescriptive rule.

Prescription was only used to protect Health Department staff from professional liability and not to increase performance of treatment. The relevance of soil scientists have been greatly diminished once actual scientific data was incorporated in onsite system designs.

Adding additional testing outside the approval mechanism is currently used as a deterrent for incorporating alternative system technology into the onsite system infrastructure. Soil scientists have been routinely used to justify conventional system types on marginal soils where an alternative system type would have been the more proper use.

As an owner of an alternative system, the state should be removing conventional systems altogether and requiring a minimum treatment level beyond what is currently relied upon.