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Building the Capacity of Drinking Water Systems


State Agencies Supporting Water System Partnerships

Virginia Resources Authority (VRA)

Virginia Department of Health (VDH) – Office of Drinking Water (ODW)

Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC)

State Policies and Programs Regarding Water System Partnerships


The 2014 Capacity Development Report to the Governor stated that “all waterworks that qualify to receive DWSRF funds are assessed by ODW staff to determine if the waterworks has sufficient TMF capacity.” If the PWS does not have sufficient TMF capacity, ODW works with the VRA to set “requirements for waterworks restructuring as part of the funding process.”


ODW staff assess TMF capacity during sanitary surveys. In Virginia, the number of PWSs that require a licensed operator has decreased; “very small waterworks… are being eliminated through consolidation.” “ODW continues to encourage… small water systems with TMF deficiencies to connect to a service authority or larger municipal… system when extend[ed] into surrounding rural areas.”


Both the VDH and SCC have receivership statutes. The State Corporation “Commission may, either upon petition of two-thirds of the affected customers or upon petition of its staff or upon petition of the Board of Health, appoint a receiver to operate a small water system… which is unable or unwilling to provide adequate service to its customers.” (Va. Code §56-265.13:6.1). The State Health “Commissioner may petition the circuit court for… the appointment of a receiver… any time that the Commissioner finds that the waterworks is unable or unwilling to provide adequate and safe service for any of the following reasons:… the waterworks can no longer be depended on to furnish pure water… has inadequate capacity… has failed to comply with an order… has abandoned the waterworks… or the Commissioner has issued an emergency order because there is an imminent danger to the public health” (Va. Code §32.1-174.3).


Va. Code § 15.2-2146 authorizes localities to acquire waterworks “for the purpose of providing an adequate water supply or of acquiring, maintaining or enlarging a waterworks… of any private of public service corporation operating a waterworks system… However, any locality condemning property hereunder shall furnish water… to the customers… of [that] water company.” The SCC “may require a public utility to transfer to another public utility… whenever the public health, welfare, or safety shall be found to so require…” (VA Code § 56-249.1). The transferring public utility is compensated at a rate fixed by the SCC.


Code of Virginia makes it “unlawful for any public utility to construct, enlarge or acquire, by lease or otherwise, any facilities for use in public utility service, except ordinary extensions or improvements in the usual course of business, without first having obtained a certificate from the Commission that the public convenience and necessity require the exercise of such right or privilege.” (Va. Code § 56 – 265.2.A.1). It is the utility’s responsibility to file for approval. “‘public utility’… shall mean… every corporation (other than municipality), company, individual or association of individuals or cooperative … that… own, manage or control any plant or equipment… for the conveyance of… water… to the public” (Va. Code § 56-232).

Helpful Links to State Resources