The owner of the lot must fill out an application and prepare their property for evaluation. (Applications and Instructions for preparing the property are available at the health department. Please contact the environmental health services section of the Wilkes County Health Department for application packets.) When the application and the site preparation are complete, an Environmental Health Specialist will go to the site and perform a “site evaluation” to determine the suitability of a proposed wastewater system. Factors involved are size and location of the proposed building, (the number of bedrooms in a dwelling, the number of employees in a business, and the number of seats in a restaurant or a church), the size and location of any adjacent structures and future development, the location of any wells or existing septic systems, and the physical features of the land, such as:
- Shape and slope of the lot (ex. hill or depression)
- Soil composition: texture-causing mixtures of sand, silt, and clay and the sizes of the particles
- Soil structure: arrangement of the soil particles
- Soil wetness conditions: location of the seasonal high water table or perched water table, and as determined by observation of colors of chroma 2 or less using the Munsell Color Chart.
- Soil depth: amount of suitable soil before an unsuitable factor such as rock or saprolite
- Restrictive factors: soil that is capable of perching ground water or sewage effluent, also called “hard pans”
- Available space: amount of suitable soil that can be used for the septic system and repair area
Following the site visit, the owner will be notified to let him/ her know if the lot will support the wastewater system. For businesses or commercial sites: if the daily design flow is greater than 3000 gallons per day, the septic system plans must be sent to the State agency for review and approval first.
Changes (Planned or Unplanned) to Existing Septic Systems
Frequently, this office is called to inspect possible violations of sewage disposal. These may range from kitchen or washing machine waste being piped to an open ditch, to a direct pipe from the septic tank or toilet to a ditch or yard. After making an inspection, and determining the validity of the complaint the appropriate action is taken. If the violations are not corrected in the specified amount of time, criminal warrants may be issued.
If repairs or changes need to be made to an existing system an application must be filed with the Health Department. An Environmental Health Specialist will go to the site to determine what repairs or additions are needed to the septic system.
Final Wastewater System Approval
Following new construction or improvements, an Environmental Health Specialist will conduct a final inspection of the septic system. The Specialist will be checking for an approved and properly installed septic tank and drain field system, ensuring the construction meets the requirements on the permit.