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Septic / Groundwater Overview

Basic Steps for a New Septic System

Preparation for an Improvement Permit

A private wastewater treatment and disposal system, or "septic tank system" as it is more commonly known, is utilized wherever municipal sewer lines have not been installed. Since municipal sewer is not available to many areas of the county, sewage disposal for development in these areas is accomplished with septic tank systems. When a person wishes to develop a site utilizing a septic tank system an application for improvement permit must be submitted to our office. This application requires a site plan drawn to scale detailing the scope of the proposed development.  Details such as size and shape of the improvements, grading and paving limits, decks, walkways, and other necessary buildings must be depicted on the plot plan. 

The soil/site evaluation (commonly known as soil test) is the first step in securing a permit for a private subsurface wastewater treatment system installation once the application for the permit has been made. The information obtained from the evaluation determines if a system can be installed on the property involved.  The proposed structure (residence, commercial building, etc.) location and property lines are marked on the tract.  Soils are evaluated using hand auger borings and occasionally backhoe pits.  Topography is also evaluated, as it is an important factor in system installation and design. Note: It is very important not to cut, clear, excavate or otherwise disturb property prior to talking with the soil scientist.  The purpose of the soil investigation is to evaluate the suitability of soils on the property for system installation. The presence of expansive clay means the soil particles will expand when wet.  This inhibits internal soil water movement and makes the soil unsuitable for system installation.  Soil wetness conditions (indicated by gray-colored mottles) show that the soil remains saturated for extended periods of time during the year.  Such soils would be unsuitable and would not accommodate a private subsurface wastewater system.  Soils are quite variable and may exhibit drastic changes in rather short distances.  This means that a lot with acceptable soils for a system installation could be adjacent to a lot that has unsuitable soils.

After determining the site suitability an improvement permit will be either issue or denied.  An Environmental Health Specialist is responsible for issuing improvement permits for private wastewater systems installed in Mecklenburg County . The permit approvals are very site specific. Approvals are given based on the information contained and given in the original permit application. 

The development of the site begins and at some point during construction, a registered septic tank contractor installs the system. The installation and materials are inspected and approvals are issued. After final approval is given the system can be covered and placed into service. 

A septic tank system is the most environmentally friendly means of sewage disposal known to man.  With regular maintenance and care a septic tank system can last a lifetime.

To apply for a soil test or for general questions call 704.336.5103.

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