Carroll's Bureau of Environmental Health plans to establish a program that would allow private companies to perform soil percolation tests to supplement county soil testing services.
The arrangement would give residents the option of hiring private engineers or sanitarians approved by the county Health Department to perform the tests, which determine the ability of matter to flow through the soil. The test is required before residential sewage disposal systems can be installed.
"There have been some times when we can't get to percolation tests as quickly as customers would like," said Charles Zeleski, the county Health Department's assistant director of environmental health.
"This program is to allow developers the option of going to a private concern to have these tests done."
Mr. Zeleski said he hopes to have the program operating by Jan. 1.
He said no backlog currently exists for percolation tests, but sometimes situations arise when the department staff has difficulty meeting demand.
"When we're dealing with 100 lots, we have to block off a week's worth of time," he said.
On occasion, four to six weeks elapse between a test request and the actual testing, and some developers say they can't wait that long be
cause of loan commitments or planning commission deadlines, Mr. Zeleski said.
The Health Department will take applications from private testers and compile a list of approved individuals and companies. Qualified testers must meet state sanitarian licensing requirements and be able to test at least 20 sites per week, Mr. Zeleski said.
The list will be maintained by the Health Department.
Mr. Zeleski said private testers charge at least $200 for a percolation test. The Health Department testing fee is $35.
Health Department staff members will review all tests and conduct field surveys on at least 10 percent of the tests to ensure tests are being done properly, he said.