Only licensed professionals can conduct system inspections or soil evaluations for septic systems. Learn about these professionals and how to hire one.
Guide Hiring Title 5 System Inspectors and Soil Evaluators
Finding a System Inspector or Soil Evaluator
The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission trains and certifies system inspectors and soil evaluators in Massachusetts. To find an approved soil evaluator or system inspector, see the lists on their website (link below). NEIWPCC updates these lists throughout the year.
The following professionals qualify to be System Inspectors under Title 5. They must first apply to MassDEP for approval to conduct inspections:
- Professional Engineers (PEs) with a concentration in civil, sanitary or environmental engineering. They must provide documentation of their status to NEIWPCC (e.g., a photocopy of their license).
- Registered Sanitarians
- Certified Health Officers
These professionals may also qualify for certification. They must take the training and pass the exam:
- Board of Health members and Health Agents
- Professional home inspectors
- Licensed septage haulers
- System installers
- Engineers in Training (EIT-certified with a concentration in civil, sanitary or environmental engineering)
- Persons with at least one year of experience in system inspection.
System inspections conducted by anyone else are not valid under Title 5.
People who take the course and pass the exam receive a certificate from MassDEP. These individuals should also show evidence of their professional registration or certification. To be sure that someone is a certified system inspector, check NEIWPCC's lists.
MassDEP may revoke a System Inspector's approval if the agency determines that the inspector falsified an inspection form or misrepresented inspection results.
System Inspectors are not required to carry liability insurance.
A septic system works by breaking down sanitary waste and dispersing wastewater to the surrounding earth. Title 5 requires a site evaluation before the installation of a septic system, to ensure that the soils can handle the waste load. A state-certified Soil Evaluator can perform this evaluation.
Approved Soil Evaluators have taken NEIWPCC's training course, classroom tests, and field exams. The following persons qualify as Soil Evaluators under Title 5 once they pass the exams:
- Massachusetts Registered Sanitarians
- Massachusetts Registered Professional Engineers
- Engineers-in-Training with a concentration in civil, sanitary, or environmental engineering
- Massachusetts Registered Land Surveyors
- Certified Health Officers
- Board of Health Members or Agents
- Employees of MassDEP involved in the administration of 310 CMR 15.000
Persons with these academic qualifications:
- Bachelor of Arts or Sciences in Soil or Geological Sciences
- Advanced degrees in Soil or Geological Sciences
- 15 or more semester credits in soil-science courses from an accredited institution. At least 3 of the 15 credits must be in Soil Genesis, Classification, Morphology, and Mapping. The remaining credits must be in at least three of the following categories:
- Introductory Soil Science
- Soil Chemistry/Fertility
- Soil Physics
- Soil Microbiology/Chemistry
- Soil Survey Interpretations/Soils and Land-use/Soils and the Environment
- Independent Study/Seminar/Geology
To find a certified Soil Evaluator, check NEIWPCC’s List of Approved Soil Evaluators. You can also ask the Soil Evaluator to provide a copy of his or her certification.
A key element of a soil evaluation is the Estimated Seasonal High Groundwater Level. If the local Board of Health and the Soil Evaluator disagree on this, you may ask another Soil Evaluator to give a second opinion. The local Board of Health must approve the system design and installation.
Note: a Soil Evaluator may not act as an agent for both the Board of Health and the property owner for work done on the same site. The Board of Health Soil Evaluator may perform both the percolation test and the soil evaluation, if the property owner is not paying for them. The Board of Health may charge the property owner a fee for performing these services.