Onsite sewage systems & private wells; VDH to take steps to eliminate evaluation & design services. (HB888)

Introduced By

Del. Bobby Orrock (R-Thornburg) with support from co-patron Del. Michael Webert (R-Marshall)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Onsite sewage systems; evaluation and design services. Directs the Department of Health to take steps to eliminate evaluation and design services for onsite sewage systems and private wells provided by the Department. The bill provides specific requirements and a timeline for such elimination. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/09/2018Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18101594D
01/09/2018Referred to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions
01/17/2018Assigned HWI sub: Subcommittee #1
01/18/2018Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendments (9-Y 0-N)
01/22/2018Impact statement from VDH (HB888)
01/23/2018Reported from Health, Welfare and Institutions with amendments (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/25/2018Read first time
01/26/2018Read second time
01/26/2018Committee amendments agreed to
01/26/2018Engrossed by House as amended HB888E
01/26/2018Printed as engrossed 18101594D-E
01/29/2018Read third time and passed House (93-Y 6-N)
01/29/2018VOTE: PASSAGE (93-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
01/30/2018Impact statement from VDH (HB888E)
01/30/2018Constitutional reading dispensed
01/30/2018Referred to Committee on Rules
02/21/2018Rereferred from Rules (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/21/2018Rereferred to Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
02/22/2018Reported from Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (12-Y 0-N 3-A) (see vote tally)
02/22/2018Rereferred to Finance
02/27/2018Reported from Finance with substitute (15-Y 0-N 1-A) (see vote tally)
02/27/2018Committee substitute printed 18107597D-S1
02/28/2018Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018Read third time
02/28/2018Reading of substitute waived
02/28/2018Committee substitute agreed to 18107597D-S1
02/28/2018Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute HB888S1
02/28/2018Passed Senate with substitute (37-Y 1-N 2-A) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018Impact statement from VDH (HB888S1)
02/28/2018Placed on Calendar
02/28/2018Senate substitute agreed to by House 18107597D-S1 (93-Y 2-N)
02/28/2018VOTE: ADOPTION (93-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
03/02/2018Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB888ER)
03/02/2018Impact statement from VDH (HB888ER)
03/02/2018Signed by Speaker
03/05/2018Signed by President
03/07/2018Enrolled Bill communicated to Governor on March 7, 2018
03/07/2018G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, April 9, 2018
04/09/2018Governor's recommendation received by House
04/18/2018House concurred in Governor's recommendation (95-Y 3-N)
04/18/2018VOTE: ADOPTION (95-Y 3-N)
04/18/2018Reconsideration of Governor's recommendation agreed to (38-Y 0-N 1-A)
04/18/2018Senate concurred in Governor's recommendation (39-Y 0-N)
04/18/2018G Governor's recommendation adopted
04/18/2018Reenrolled bill text (HB888ER2)
04/18/2018Signed by Speaker as reenrolled
04/18/2018Signed by President as reenrolled
04/18/2018Enacted, Chapter 831 (effective 7/1/18)
04/18/2018G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0831)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 44 seconds.


Jeff T. Walker, OSE writes:

Requirement to accept licensed onsite soil evaluator (OSE) reports and site plans would streamline permitting backlogs without putting the public or private developers at risk and expense of improperly sited water wells. In recognition of the fact that at least 14000 well and septic applications are provided through this system for each year since the establishment of the professional OSE license in 2009.

The public should be advised few certified well drillers have training or credentials for developing a site plan documenting existing or planned improvements. Lacking access to records or survey of planned or existing drainfield and septic tank location(s) or documentation in the public or private records of landowners or other professionals vested rights as required under regulation.

The danger of improperly sited wells presents a risk to private landowners relying on groundwater, and landowners or developers with no means of determining whether a well has been reliably certified or properly sited. The well drillers complaint of backlog and administrative obstruction by the VDH policy in certain Districts restricting delineation of suitable areas for well sites is duly noted. However these administrative delays and incentive to collect additional fees for provision of services should not be confused with responsibility to properly site a private well in accordance with regulations.

Therefore please provide Regulatory amendment citing statute requiring acceptance of well site documentation from AOSE pursuant to § 32.1-176.5:2 Prohibition on private well construction; and in recognition of precedent through 12VAC5-615-350. 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."

Thank you for your consideration of these issues;

Jeff T. Walker, OSE
Floyd, VA

Jeff T. Walker, OSE writes:

2018 proposed budget bill provides over $37 million for "community health services" many estimates suggest over 1/2 is spent providing subsidized septic design, primarily to developers... free or reduced cost services are not just for the poor... how many poor people build houses?

HB888 merits amendment to restrict eligibility and phase out subsidies. Lawmakers will understand that a voucher program for means tested homeowners would both support environmental health, and small business; at considerable savings to the Commonwealth and her taxpayers. Shifting design services to the private sector will provide cost savings, and permit VDH staff to focus on enforcement, inspection and public education rather than be forced into providing services with rampant conflicts of interest. Imagine any other design profession which develops and approves it's own work without 3rd party review...

As written people at 300% of poverty are eligible for design subsidies, a family of 4 would be eligible for tax payer subsidy w/ an adjusted income of $73,800; whereas Virginia's median income is reported at $68,114.

Surely Virginia has higher priorities for investing public resources under guise of improvements to public health.

Jeff T. Walker
Floyd VA

Anon writes:

Sham bill potentially causing more harm than good.

> 2017 Federal Poverty Guidelines
Household Size 100% 133% 150% 200% 250% 300% 400%
> 1 $12,060 $16,040 $18,090 $24,120 $30,150 $36,180 $48,240
> 2 16,240 21,599 24,360 32,480 40,600 48,720 64,960
> 3 20,420 27,159 30,630 40,840 51,050 61,260 81,680
> 4 24,600 32,718 36,900 49,200 61,500 73,800 98,400
> 5 28,780 38,277 43,170 57,560 71,950 86,340 115,120
> 6 32,960 43,837 49,440 65,920 82,400 98,880 131,840
> 7 37,140 49,396 55,710 74,280 92,850 111,420 148,560
> 8 41,320 54,956 61,980 82,640 103,300 123,960 165,280