The Role of Virginia Government
The Part 503 Rule on biosolids applies to every state, and each state may adopt its own regulations for the land application of biosolids. Virginia’s Biosolids Use Regulations (12 VAC 5-585) are administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The purpose of these regulations is to protect public health and the environment.

Virginia’s regulations are more stringent than the federal Part 503 Rule on land application rates, slope restrictions, setbacks, soil pH and nutrient management plan requirements.

Critical elements of Virginia’s program include:

  • Statewide oversight of the site permitting process
  • Nutrient management plans for all fields receiving biosolids
  • State certification of persons land applying biosolids
  • Routine inspections of land application activities
  • Inspection of activities and operations following complaints
  • Enforcement actions if the regulations are not followed
  • Training, testing and certification of land applicators
  • Training of local biosolids monitors

Before land application can occur, a wastewater treatment plant must test its biosolids to ensure compliance with stringent federal and state quality standards. Testing schedules are performed in accordance with state and federal permit requirements. Biosolids land application contractors are also required to submit reports for each land application activity.

New Biosolids Regulations Finalized
The comprehensive biosolids regulations overseen by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) became effective on Sept. 1.

The new biosolids regulations became necessary when DEQ assumed regulatory oversight from the Virginia Department of Health in 2007. The regulations were developed using a public participatory approach that sought input from all interested parties through a Technical Advisory Committee, or TAC. Participants included citizen representatives, wastewater treatment professionals, agricultural interests, biosolids professionals and other state government representations. A series of four public meetings was also held by the State Water Control Board to receive comments directly from the public.

The regulations provide Virginia with a comprehensive set of guidelines to protect public health and the environment, while defining predictable procedures and requirements for the management of biosolids.

The full regulations (which are divided into three parts) can be downloaded as PDF files by clicking on the following links: