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Soil Resources  

An accurate soil evaluation is critical information to determine sewage treatment system (STS) design options for a property. This page provides information on Soil Evaluators, the state-required Soil Evaluation Form with instructions, use of Engineered Drainage and a listing of the Vertical Separation Distance (VSD) to seasonal water table established by each local health district. 

Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3701-29-07 requires that an evaluator shall have the knowledge and experience to facilitate the review of site and soil conditions, using information provided by the homeowner and these rules to identity appropriate areas for the siting of STS and Gray Water Recycling Systems (GWRS).  Soil Evaluators shall be knowledgeable of the requirements of this chapter, available technologies, and the science of pedology.  Soil evaluations shall be completed by:

(1)   A soil scientist or soil classifier certified by the soil science society of America (SSSA) completing  the soil evaluation while acting as an independent agent of the owner or board of health;

(2)   A SSSA associated professional soil scientist that is supervised by a SSSA-certified soil scientist completing the soil evaluation while acting as an independent agent of the owner or board of health;  

(3)   A soil professional registered by a state or national organization with equivalent minimum qualifications and/or demonstration of competency for soil evaluation as approved by the director of health; 

(4)   A registered sanitarian employed by the board of health having jurisdiction where the soil evaluation is to take place completing the soil evaluation on behalf of the board of health when the employee is determined by the board of health to be capable of meeting the tasks in paragraph (C) of this rule; or 

(5)   Other persons approved under a certification program or other training program as approved by the director of health.

Soil Scientist Meeting the Criteria Established under Rule OAC 3701-29-07 to perform soil work in Ohio

Soil Scientist Society of America list as per OAC 3701-29-07 (A)(1) and (A)(2) 

Soil Professionals registered in other states meeting OAC 3701-29-07 (A)(3) 

Soil Professionals demonstrating compliance with criteria established by the director of health under rule OAC 3701-29-07 (A)(5)

Listed here is the criteria needed to be approved as a soil evaluator under OAC 3701-29-07 (A)(5)

Site and Soil Evaluation

Suitability of the soil for on-site sewage treatment must be evaluated on a site-by-site basis. The adequacy of site and soil conditions for on-site treatment needs to be determined prior to considering an National Pollution Discharging Elimination System (NPDES) discharge. When site and soil conditions are suitable, the evaluation is used to consider soil absorption system options. The following ODH Site & Soil Evaluation Form is required to for use to record the results of a soil evaluation. Instructions are provided to assist with the use of the soil evaluation form. The form may be requested in MS Excel format. 

ODH Site & Soil Evaluation Form

ODH Site & Soil Evaluation Instructions

Natural Resources Conservation Service-- Field book For Describing and Sampling Soils        

Site Drainage

The Ohio Administrative Code Rule 3701-29-16 and Appendix A to this rules provide the requirements and specifications for site drainage.  Site Drainage includes the use of interceptor drains, perimeter drains and engineered drainage to manage subsurface water in areas where sewage treatment systems are installed.

Site drainage definitions are as follows and found in Rule OAC 3701-29-01 

Interceptor Drain (HHH): means a drain designed to intercept the horizontal flow of subsurface water to reduce its impact on a down gradient soil absorption system.

Perimeter Drain (WWW): means a subsurface drain installed around a soul absorption component that is designed to enhance drainage of the area.  A perimeter drain does not uniformly lower the seasonal water table beneath a soil absorption area to increase the vertical separation distance.

Engineered Drainage System (II): means a drainage system designed to meet the specifications of paragraph (F) of rule 3701-29-16 of the Administrative Code.

The Ohio Department of Health contacted with the Ohio State University, Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering  to conduct an analysis of the engineered drainage for a subset of commonly found Ohio soils.  This modeling work builds on the original modeling conducted in 2008.  (See below for 2008 work.)

2015 OSU Engineered Drainage using DRAINMOD 

This report contains the results of modeling studies that evaluated the performance of subsurface drains to remove excess soil water from the soil profile with application to sewage treatment systems.  Sixty six representative soils series were analyzed using agricultural water management computer model DRAINMOD N II.  For each soil series, DRAINMOD was used to simulate daily water table depths under different combinations of drain depths and spacing for a period of 30+ years.  For each soil, two spacings (15 ft. and 22 ft.) and 6 drain depths ( 1 ft., 1.5 ft., 2 ft., 2.5 ft., 3 ft., and maximum profile depth) were simulated using hydrologic simulation model DRAINMOD N II.  A "No Drainage" scenario was also simulated for each soil.  The daily water table depths simulated under each scenario were analyzed to count the number of days  (NODs) in a year that the water table depths were less than or equal to 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90 cm (1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3 ft.) respectively.  The outputs were then summarized to obtain probabilities of exceedance and recurrence intervals for the water table depths to be within certain depths from the soil surface.  The data were further summarized into annual summaries for each water table criterion. 

Demonstration videos are available at 
Video on how to use DRAINMOD for detailed description of available results and utilities.  All result files including this report are available for download at:Extra Files to use with Drainmod.

County Survey Results

The Ohio Department of Health Residential Sewage and Water Program has been requested to provide information to homeowners, designers, and STS contractors on the decisions Local Boards of Health have made for specific STS Rule actions. 

Decisions from local Boards of Health for specific rule action. Here are the Survey Results

Page updated 12/08/16