AOSE, LPSS evolution of practices

The AOSE (Authorized On-site Soil Evaluator) program began in 1999 as an effort by the Virginia Department of Health to regulate and define the role which soil consultants perform on behalf of their clients, the practice is complemented by the on-site design knowledge skills and training afforded those credentialed as AOSE

The AOSE program transferred to the auspices of DPOR (Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation in July of 2009. The regulant is licensed, the acronym remains the same though the meaning refers now to Alternative On-site Soil Evaluator, which is administered by the  Water & Waste Waterworks Operators and Onsite Soil Professionals (WWWOOSP)

“Alternative onsite soil evaluator” is an exemption from the engineering license. The OSE is an individual licensed by the board to evaluate soils and soil properties in relationship to the effect of these properties on the use and management of these soils as the locations for conventional and alternative onsite sewage systems, to certify in accordance with applicable state regulations and local ordinances that sites are suitable for conventional and alternative onsite sewage systems, and to design conventional and alternative onsite sewage systems suitable for the soils.

Our typical client is a property owner intending to build for a family, or plan for future development and my goal is to interpret the environmental limitations and ensure that the residents do not degrade the environment for themselves or their neighbors.

Soil Scientists also consult for governmental bodies, industrial or commercial establishments, real estate developers, professional engineers and nongovernmental organizations to delineate changes in land use or potential for development or conservation uses, however is limited to reporting what is in place, not future performance.

It is appropriate to emphasize that soil is the medium best suited to renovating wastes, and recycle water and nutrients. In Virginia only an OSE or PE can design improvements based on information revealed by the soil sciences. Soils affect the suitability of a particular environment. Experience in assessing a site’s limitations reveals many aspects depth of restriction or water table, measurement of water movement, and factors which are not evident to the layperson; these aspects are readily incorporated into an owner’s understanding of the property, and ideally results in better planning for an intended use. These limitations were understood by prior landowners and often explain the location of fence lines, springs, houses and roads.

Regarding CPSS:  certification was superseded by Licensed Professional Soil Scientist under DPOR’s auspices, in 2013.

What are the qualifications for certification?
The Board for Professional Soil Scientists and Wetland Professionals Regulations governing the certification of professional soil scientists states that applicants for certification shall meet the education, eligibility, experience and examination requirements specified in Chapter 22 of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia, see :

Soil scientists are trained & have proven experience in mapping, morphology, structure, texture, mineralogy, soil classification, landscape assessment, hydrology and many other aspects all of which are recognized as applicable for establishing compliance with the regulations pertaining to  on-site waste water or storm water dispersal.

Foundation and structural bearing work are not within our purview (that would be soils engineering, a division of Civil Engineering) shrink swell evaluations are engineering functions.

Any LPSS can and should certify their soil report to the PE providing a design who uses a report intended to delineate features critical to on-site waste water, storm-water, erosion control,  nutrient management plan or other application.

Developing a site plan is incidental to the practice of the OSE, although sometimes this must be done with support of a licensed surveyor.

1. There may not be a survey of record, however the  certification that the improvement is on the owner’s property must be weighed against cost and risk of trespass.  Only the professional and his client can assess complications of title search, terrain and reconciling with adjacent survey which can only be performed by a surveyor.

2. If the OSE designs and establishes the location of the system, and is able to verify the installers adherence to all aspects of the design, and creates and files the as-built drawing to the local VDH.

3. It has been left to the OSE to establish all setbacks to property lines, wells, and easements as well as restrictions in soil or above.

In contrast the LPSS licensure is known as a title act, reserving the title to those under this licensure. This is true of all soil interpretive functions whether for storm-water or onsite septic, or wetland delineation. This is analogous to the Geologists which are regulated by the same board. We “voluntarily” meet the standards, and are subject to all the restrictions of the Board for the recognition that we are qualified to interpret soil for the benefit of other professions and the public.

I  advocate that active professionals defend this status, and advocate for acceptance of reliable  practices to serve our clients. My father taught me a simple lesson, you will thrive as long as you are in service to others.

Biography: Jeff T. Walker is experienced with site evaluation, soil delineation and interpretation, design, contracting, inspection and evaluation of the operation of conventional and advanced sewage systems. Building on over 20 years experience in water and wastewater design, permitting, construction and maintenance of residential, commercial and industrial systems. BRS&S; LLC was incorporated in 2009, serving clients in Floyd and adjacent counties. BRS&S is a Class B Virginia Licensed Contractor with endorsements in Sewage Disposal Systems, Advanced Onsite Construction, Heavy Highways, Environmental, Farm Improvements and Landscaping.

2 Responses to “AOSE, LPSS evolution of practices”

  1. Dedie Edwards Says:

    How much do it cause to get Aose evaluate na system for septic tank for 3bedroom home that it already on the property

    • Jeff Walker Says:

      Your costs will depend upon situation & whether a complete document set is available.
      A SAP (safe adequate and proper) which is required for owners wishing to add on to a home requires unearthing the tank and D-box to determine whether the system is functioning as designed. Generally the cost of a SAP which includes inspection and report starts at $240, excavation and location services may add to this cost, systems w/out history of pumpouts will also require this maintenance.

      Please let me know whether this answers your question, and if I can be of service.
      Regards, Jeff

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