Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Proposed Text


Establish Regulations for Recreational Water
Stage: Fast-Track




12VAC5-135-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Beach action value" or "BAV" means the concentration of an indicator organism that shall determine whether a beach advisory is issued or lifted.

"Beach advisory" means a public announcement that the beach action value has been met or exceeded and informing the public of a higher risk of illness when swimming.

"Beach warning" means a public announcement issued as a result of the department suspecting a public beach water hazard to be present, such as during extreme weather events or chemical spills or when the department has been unable to test public beach water as scheduled.

"Commissioner" means the State Health Commissioner or the commissioner's designee.

"Department" means the Virginia Department of Health.

"Public beach" means a sandy beach located on a tidal shoreline adjacent to water that is suitable for swimming and that remains open and accessible for public use.

"Public beach water" means the water adjacent to a public beach.


12VAC5-135-20. Beach Monitoring and Notification Program.

Through the Virginia Department of Health Beach Monitoring and Notification Program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency BEACH Act Grant, the commissioner issues and lifts beach advisories and beach warnings for public beach water.


12VAC5-135-30. Issuance and lifting of beach advisories and beach warnings.

A. The BAV value that determines issuance or lifting of a beach advisory equals 104 most probable number (MPN) per 100 mL enterococci.

B. The commissioner shall issue beach advisories whenever public beach water samples are equal to or greater than the BAV. After the issuing of the beach advisory, if the results of subsequent testing of public beach water samples are less than the BAV, the commissioner shall lift the beach advisory.

C. The commissioner shall issue beach warnings whenever it is not possible for department staff to collect samples of the public beach water on the scheduled day as a result of practical or safety concerns, or if the proximity of other imminent hazards, such as those of a chemical spill, pose a health risk to public beach water users. The commissioner shall lift beach warnings when the event or imminent health hazard has passed or public beach water sampling has resumed. The appropriate laboratory analysis for the hazard shall be used when available to demonstrate public beach water conditions are safe for public use.

D. Acceptable means of public notification of beach advisories and beach warnings include public beach signage, press releases, contacting of local government officials, social media posts, and other forms of communication to convey a beach advisory or beach warning.


12VAC5-135-40. Procedures for beach monitoring.

The procedures for beach monitoring are as follows:

1. The department shall collect public beach water samples on a weekly basis from the middle of May through September or as otherwise determined by the department based on factors such as the size of the beach-going population and the climate at any particular public beach.

2. The department shall analyze public beach water samples using methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

3. If the department does not collect and test a public beach water sample as scheduled, the commissioner shall issue a beach warning, or if there is an existing beach advisory, the commissioner shall continue the beach advisory.

4. If multiple public beach water samples are taken at several sites within public beach water, the department may average and compare the samples with the BAV. If the average result of the public beach water samples is equal to or greater than the BAV, then the commissioner shall issue a beach advisory.

5. If a public beach water sample is equal to or greater than the BAV, the commissioner-issued beach advisory shall remain in effect until follow-up samples can be taken that demonstrate that levels are less than the BAV.

6. In the event of the issuance of a beach advisory, the department shall collect and analyze follow-up public beach water samples as soon as reasonably possible. Follow-up public beach water samples that are equal to or greater than the BAV shall result in a continuation of the beach advisory.