Perc Test vs. Soil Evaluation
The familiar term for obtaining a soils evaluation for a septic system has always been perc testing. Is this still a valid term? In many counties in Virginia, this term no longer describes the assessment required to obtain a septic system permit or certification. Although some states may still require a water percolation test, they are no longer required in Virginia for approval. For about twenty five years, a soil evaluation is completed and has to pass the evaluator’s judgment. Currently, a licensed onsite soils evaluator (OSE) or licensed alternative onsite soils evaluator (AOSE) performs the evaluation and bases their decision on a complex set of state regulations. In many cases additional ordinances are put in place by local counties. These guidelines include landscape, depth to water table, rock and water movement restrictions.
A soil evaluation requires a backhoe to be onsite to dig five foot deep test pits which the evaluator uses to determine soil characteristics. In some situations the test pits can be augered and reviewed with the same procedures. The texture, color, structure, depths to rock, water table or indicators of slow water movement (redox) will be recorded and later summarized in a soils report. This report will be submitted to the local health department along with a sketch, survey, system design and the evaluator’s certification for issuance of a construction permit or certification letter.