Q: What is a soil scientist?

A: A soil scientist is a person with specialized knowledge of soil morphology (i.e., the arrangement and characteristics of the layers, or horizons, in a soil profile), soil chemistry, soil biology, and/or soil physics.  Soil scientists use this knowledge to better assists their clients needs in developing their property. In North Carolina & South Carolina a professional license is required in order to practice soil science.

Q: Why do I need a septic permit?

A:   The first step of the development process is to obtain a septic permit, without this you can not obtain a building permit.  Therefore if you are planning on building in an area that is not served by public sewer, a improvement permit/septic permit is needed prior in order to obtain a buiding permit.  NC law requires that all permits regarding wastewater treatment and disposal be approved before any construction begins.

Septic system permits in North Carolina are issued by the local health department and have three stages. The first stage is an “improvement permit”, which simply states that the lot has an adequate area of suitable soil to allow a septic system for a given design daily flow. It generally indicates the system type and location of the soil area. Next an “authorization to construct” or “AC” is issued. In the “AC” the location of the house, driveway and other proposed appurtenances such as pools or outbuildings are detailed as well as the layout of the septic system. An “AC” is required before construction can begin. The final stage is an “operating permit” or “OP”. This states that the system has been installed in accordance with the “AC”, and allows use of the septic system. An “OP” is required before a certificate of occupancy is issued by the building and inspections department.

Q: What is an onsite wastewater system/septic system?

A: Onsite wastewater system is when wastewater is generated on a site—whether it is a house, store, restaurant, institution or an industry and is treated and disposed of on the site rather than being transported to a central wastewater treatment plant. The effluent is placed in the soil for treatment where millions of organisms attack the effleunt for the nutrients and therefore the effluent is treated.


*FAQ Information referenced: http://ncsoilinfo.com/faqs.htm

Frequently Asked Questions


General Information

National Soil Survey Center

University Soil Departments

Soil Science Department at NC State 
Soil Science Department at Clemson University

National Soil Survey Center

Find out about the soils on your property!

Web Soil Survey 


Information for Homeowners and Potential Home Buyers

SoilFacts: Septic System Owners Guide (2004) 
SoilFacts: Why do Septic Systems Fail? (2005) 
SoilFacts: Investigate Before You Invest (1997) 
Links to information on septic systems from the NC DENR Onsite Water Protection Section

Septic System Components and Function

How septic systems work -  howstuffworks.com 
SoilFacts: Septic Systems and Their Maintenance (2004)
Septic System Components & Maintenance - National Environmental Services Center
Additional Links & Information on Septic Systems - National Environmental Services Center
Septic System Technology Fact Sheets - EPA


These are external links intended to provide informationMichael Athanas & Associates does not personally or exclusively endorse any of these sites, nor do we receive any type of compensation.

Who We Are & What We Do

Michael Athanas & Associates was established in 2005 as a soil and environmental consulting firm.  With a combined 40 years of experience, our firm offers a high level of knowledge about soils, onsite wastewater systems/septic systems, reversing denied sites, adjusting existing systems to accommodate bedroom additions or pools and working with developers in the subdivision design process. It is our commitment to present to our clients high quality services with exceptional honesty and integrity.

Michael Athanas & Associates is licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina

Why do you need a Soil Scientist 

  • Overturned/denied applications by the local health department or State
  • Act as mediator for clients with our respected relationships with the local county/state officials
  • Work directly with developers, engineers and survors with subdivision design/increased lot yeild
  • Expediting the permitting process "Fastrack"/Iredell County
  • Adjusting existing permits to accommidate additional bedrooms and pools
  • Change system types to save our clients money