Eagle River Engineering Services

WELL FLOW AND/OR SEPTIC ADEQUACY TESTING PROCEDURE

Here are some things you should be aware of regarding the testing process for your home. The test involves simulation of the daily performance of the systems over the shortened time period of a working day. This typically stresses the leachfield and well to determine performance characteristics. Standard Municipal requirements for a conventional health certificate include that the well produce a minimum of 150 gallons of water per bedroom per day, and that the septic system accept that same amount. There are also requirements of surface separation distances such as the common 100' from well to septic tank that must be checked.

 

SEPTIC SYSTEM

Access to all septic standpipes is required to perform a proper test, pipes should be exposed if under turf or snow prior to the test. We will hunt for pipes approximately two hours, after which time, additional charges will incur. Septic tank pumping will be required for HAA if it has not been done within one year, and if we perform the test it will be scheduled after our test but prior submittal of the HAA to the Municipality. Pumping the tank prior to our test does not help the system pass, and may actually be detrimental to our testing effort resulting in a false failure determination or required re-testing at additional cost. It is important to tell the test person if the tank has been pumped. 
To start the test water is added to the septic system, usually thru the onsite water spigot an at whatever maximum rate the well or water tap will produce. The water is placed either directly into the leachfield or into the tank depending on the number of standpipes available. The starting water level in the leach area is recorded and then subsequent water levels as the water is added. After the required water volume is added to the leach area the levels are monitored to determine the rate of absorption into the surrounding soil. How often the readings are taken, how fast the water is added and how much water depends on the type of leach area and the particular method of the tester. There is no standardized system and a lot of the test procedure and outcome is determined by the experience of the tester or reviewing engineer. We should add that if the water levels in the leachfield are above the level of the leach gravel depth prior to adding water then there is no point in testing the system as it is considered in failure by MOA requirements. This can only be determined by studying the system design documents and reading the water levels correctly. If ERES has designed your original system we can provide these depths from our records.
Once the test day is complete, the system may require an additional 24 hour monitor to evaluate a satisfactory recovery. This only occurs in 20% of the testing cases and only if it is to your benefit.  If 24 hour readings are needed your water usage for the 24 hour period immediately following the test will need to be very limited, or possibly none, to obtain favorable readings. If it is not possible for you to limit your water use for the 24 hours after our test, then we should be notified, as it is usually possible to schedule the tank to be pumped prior to our leaving the site in the late afternoon to allow use of the water system without affecting the leachfield recovery portion of the test. The pumping must be arranged in advance, and if arranged, then should be utilized. 

 

WELL SYSTEM

Access to the breaker panel that controls the pump is helpful and should be arranged prior to testing. Please notify the testing service if any unusual conditions exist, such as a water holding tank, pump protection circuits, water filters or water softener which must be bypassed. Water samples for coliform bacteria, arsenic and nitrates will be taken for processing at a testing facility for Municipal certification. The well levels are monitored during the test to determine the starting, pumping and recovery water levels. At ERES we utilize a non intrusive sonar device to record the water levels and protect the pump system from being overdrawn. The well is pumped at a rate that will provide the maximum flow value for the lenders report but will not draw down to below the pump level. If the well is a good producer the test is simply limited to letting the well flow and recording the stabilized levels. If the well is a slow producer then the water level must be drawn down and then the pump shut off to record a recovery cycle, with this sequence repeated to the satisfaction of the tester. Once the well test is completed, in some rare cases the system may require an additional 24 hour monitor to determine satisfactory recovery to allow evaluation. In this case, your water usage for the 24 hour period following the test will need to be limited to none to obtain favorable readings. You should be aware that testing the well places certain stresses on the well pump that are not typically encountered in daily usage. 

 

GENERAL

Thank you for considering Eagle River Engineering Services to perform your well flow test and/or septic adequacy test for Municipal Health Authority Approval (HAA). By choosing us, you have the benefit of 18 years local testing experience and a staff knowledgeable in Municipal Code requirements. 

ERES will make every effort to test your well and/or septic system in a safe, accurate, and least obtrusive way possible. Our test results are provided to the Municipality which then makes a determination as to adequacy. Any questions on the above testing procedure can be emailed to inquiry@ERES-AK.com for a reply. 

See Tips on how to improve your chances for a passing test.