OSDS and Land Use Implications
A change in Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations in 2000 dramatically changed land development patterns within many Virginia localities. The regulations allowed new engineered onsite sewage disposal system (OSDS) technologies to be installed on “marginal land,” or land that does not perk and would not normally support a traditional gravity fed septic system. Consequently these regulations reinforced the role of VDH to issue permits for OSDS systems and did not address land use development decision making, which is a responsibility of local governments. Also, the general assembly passed House Bill 1788, while the VDH promulgated regulations (12VAC5-610-20) that directly pertain to OSDS adding to the policy and management conundrum of engineered OSDS.
Failing Septic Systems on "Heir Properties" in the Middle Peninsula
MPPDC secured funding from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for a project to address failing septic systems on "heir properties" in the Middle Peninsula.
This project expanded and complemented Section 309 Land and Water Quality Protection strategies by focusing legal tools needed to address failing septic systems associated with “heir property ownership”. Water quality degradation associated with heir property ownership from failing septic systems exists for decades with no public policy strategy to correct the source of impairment. MPPDC partnered with National Sea Grant Law Center to address legal research and education needs to address this ongoing problem. This project led to the passage of legislation VA CODE § 15.2-958.6 in the 2013 General Assembly to provide a mechanism for a locality to adopt an ordinance addressing the difficulties of financing these repairs. MPPDC continues to work with our localities to comprehend and take advantage of this opportunity.
Failing Septic System Financing
MPPDC has provided financial assistance to Middle Peninsula homeowners to repair failing septic systems since 1997. Historically the ability to combine low interest loans with grants to low income homeowners has been the vehicle that allowed MPPDC to assist homeowners to repair over 100 failing septic systems affecting water quality and quality of life in the region. The main source of funding for these grants to low income homeowners (Water Quality Improvement Funding - WQIF) has been redirected by the State to provide assistance to localities for stormwater management and is no longer available for septic repair. MPPDC, with funding from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (NA13NOS4190135 Task 94.02) has solicited assistance from the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic to research other sources of funding to sustain this program into the future.