Civil Penalties for Violations of Onsite Sewage Requirements

August 12, 2013

VACo Memorandum

TO: VACo Community Development & Planning Steering Committee

FROM: Erik Johnston, Director of Government Affairs

SUBJECT: Final Regulations Authorizing Civil Penalties for Violations of Onsite Sewage Requirements

Copy: County Administrators, County Liaisons

Gov. Bob McDonnell recently gave final approval of regulations authorizing the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to impose civil penalties for violations of the Department’s onsite sewage requirements. VACo sent a letter in early May 2013 urging the governor to give final approval for these regulations. The final regulations are published in the Aug. 12 issue of the Virginia Register of Regulations (under 12VAC5-650 – Schedule of Civil Penalties). The regulations will go into effect on Sept. 13 after a final comment period that ends on Sept. 11.

Since 2009, VACo and many of its members participated with other stakeholders to update the Commonwealth’s onsite sewage regulations, particularly those concerning alternative onsite systems (AOSS). Under current law, in order to enforce the current onsite regulations, the VDH is only authorized to request the local commonwealth attorney to file criminal penalties (Class I Misdemeanor) for violators of any of the requirements.

The new civil penalties regulations will allow the VDH to charge civil penalties in amounts that are relatively small in comparison to the existing criminal penalties. Further, the civil penalties regulations provide VDH an effective enforcement tool that may be scaled to match the seriousness of a violation. For more information or to provide a public comment, click here.

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