RD70 - House Joint Resolution 641 Report: Evaluation of Additional Issues Related to the Use of Rainwater as Part of the Rulemaking Process – December 20, 2019
In response to Chapter 817 of the 2018 Acts of the Assembly House Bill 192 (HB 192), codified as § 32.1-248.2 of the Code of Virginia (the Code), the Virginia Department of Health (Department) assembled a group of stakeholders and sought feedback from local health departments to assist in developing necessary regulations for rainwater harvesting. Thus far the stakeholder group has met four times to discuss these issues. Based on the efforts of the workgroup and responses from local health departments, the Department’s Office of Environmental Health Services (OEHS) prepared a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) to be submitted by the end of 2019.
The development process included reviewing systems that collect rainwater for use by commercial enterprises but do not provide water for human consumption, as defined in § 32.1-167 of the Code. The Department and the stakeholder group, as requested by House Joint Resolution 641 (HJ641) of the General Assembly 2019 Session, also evaluated additional issues related to the use of rainwater as part of the rulemaking process. The issues reviewed by the Department and stakeholder group included:
• The conditions under which rainwater may be appropriately used and for what purposes.
• Standards for the use of rainwater for human consumption.
• Standards for rainwater harvesting systems, including systems that collect rainwater for human consumption and systems that collect rainwater for use by commercial enterprises but not human consumption, as those systems are defined in § 32.1-167 of the Code.
• A requirement that buildings that withdraw water from both rainwater harvesting systems and public water supplies maintain appropriate cross-connection safeguards.
• Training and certification requirements for installers of rainwater harvesting systems installed in buildings that draw water from both rainwater harvesting systems and public water supplies.
• Addressing water supply and water resource demand.
• Addressing impacts of drought on facilities reliant upon rainwater harvesting systems.
• Local ordinance requirements for connection to public water when rainwater harvesting is an available water supply solution.
• Lack of Department funding for program implementation.
The Department, in conjunction with the stakeholder group, identified the following key considerations for development of rainwater harvesting regulations:
• The use of harvested rainwater not intended for human consumption currently occurs safely and effectively under the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC), the International Plumbing Code, and the Department’s Rainwater Harvesting & Use Guidance.
• Provision of harvested rainwater for human consumption is permitted under the Waterworks regulations for those systems that, on the basis of capacity and distribution, are classified as waterworks.
• Provision of harvested rainwater for human consumption for systems that, on the basis of capacity and distribution, would not be classified as waterworks, will require development of regulations pursuant to § 32.1-248.2 of the Code.
The Department shares the stakeholder group’s conclusion that it is appropriate to develop regulations pertaining to the use of harvested rainwater for human consumption by private systems (non-waterworks). Based on these considerations and conclusions, the Department submits four recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly:
Recommendation 1 – Funding for a Rainwater Harvesting Permit Program
The General Assembly may wish to consider amending § 32.1-248.2 of the Code and the Appropriation Act to establish fees for rainwater harvesting system for permitting and ongoing operation and maintenance review by the Department, based on system capacity and use.
Recommendation 2 – Local Ordinances
The General Assembly may wish to consider exploring options under Title 15.2, Subtitle II, Chapter 21 of the Code to address opportunities for users of permitted rainwater harvesting systems for human consumption to obtain relief from mandatory connection to public water supplies.
Recommendation 3 – Training and Certification
The General Assembly may wish to consider requiring certifications for persons involved in the design, installation, testing, and operation of rainwater harvesting systems.
Recommendation 4 – Private Well Water Quality
The General Assembly may wish to consider amendments to § 32.1-176.2 of the Code to authorize the Board of Health (the Board) to ensure water quality of private wells conforms to reasonable requirements. Alternately, the General Assembly may wish to consider amendments to the Code to allow the Board to include in its regulations water quality standards applicable to the transfer of real estate served by one or more private wells providing water for human consumption, or water quality standards applicable to commercial facilities serving sensitive populations (e.g. day care) relying on private well water for human consumption.