SD10 - Performance and Oversight of Virginia's Small Community Drinking Water Systems

Executive Summary:
[The electronic version of the report was replaced by JLARC on 3/21/07.]

Senate Joint Resolution 82 directed JLARC to assess the effectiveness of the regulatory framework overseeing the quality and cost of drinking water provided by small water systems.

Generally, small system customers reported satisfaction with the quality and cost of their water. However, some small system operators reported operational challenges, and small systems account for most violations.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) implements State and federal drinking water standards, and its efforts in providing assistance and funding have been good. Most small systems are well operated, but additional options to address systems with histories of noncompliance are needed. Encouraging consolidation to eliminate nonviable systems may improve compliance.

By statute, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) regulates rates charged by less than a quarter of small systems. Review of these rates is rigorous; however, better coordination by SCC and VDH could improve the rate-setting process.

Water supply protection and planning efforts have been limited in Virginia. Better coordination among State regulatory agencies and local governments may lead to improvements.