Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

Regulatory Negotiation and Consensus Building for Onsite Septic System Regulations


With facilitation by the IEN, a twenty-two member Advisory Committee met for six all-day meetings to discuss and debate how best to protect public health, minimize the need for remedial action, and reduce permitting delays for Virginia's onsite septic system permitting and inspection program. Following a charge by the General Assembly to privatize the onsite septic system program, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) had been grappling with the difficult issues associated with privatization of functions that required continued public oversight. The Committee developed a consensus report with 22 recommendations for permanent regulations, which it submitted to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in August 2000. The committees recommendations addressed how to make the new system work, including requirements for new Authorized Onsite Septic Evaluator (AOSE) certification and training, AOSE access to information, application forms, final inspections by the VDH, continuing consulting relationship between the VDH and AOSEs, and maintenance of onsite systems. The new regulatory program went into force in 2001.