Chatham County NC Soil Types and Effects on Septic Systems

Chatham County Land Expert Eric Andrews discusses the soils found throughout various parts of the county. Pittsboro, Siler City and Goldston are the only areas in Chatham County NC which have municipal sewer systems. All other areas have septic systems. Land around Jordan Lake has challenging, packed, white soils. Many homes in this area have specially engineered septic systems. North Chatham has good soils but has a lot of rock. This is challenging as septic systems must navigate around rock. Some of the best soils in Chatham County follow along highway 64 between Pittsboro and Siler City. Pittsboro has great soil as well, although, Pittsboro also has septic. Silk Hope is 50/50. There are some areas with great soil. Thanks to the elevation of the Silk Hope area, there are vineyards in the area. Bear Creek is hit or miss. There is often good dirt in this area, it is just a bit shallow. The southwest section of Chatham County has soil similar to the area surrounding Jordan Lake, however, property values are lower here making engineered systems less cost effective. Yellow, gray or white chalky soils, rocky soils, or clay are challenging soils. Before purchasing land be sure to have the soil evaluated and also do a perc test.

Speaker 1:           Tell us about Chatham county soils.

Speaker 2:           The reason why Chatham county soils are so important is that Pittsboro and Siler City and now Goldston are the only areas with municipal sewer. If you’re outside of these areas, you either have some private wastewater system, like the Preserve Governor’s Club, Farrington, Briar Chapel, and Chapel Ridge all have private systems. Then if you’re anywhere else outside of that, you have an individual septic system. That’s why knowing the soils of Chatham county is so important.

Speaker 1:           This is the Goldston right here?

Speaker 2:           Yeah. G-town. Goldston. I live right across the street from Goldston. One of the things that we need to know right now is probably some of the most difficult challenging soils in the entire county is one of the areas that a flood of people are moving to. It’s around the lake, especially east of the lake. Those are packed, chalky, white, really, really difficult soils for septic. Now there is some sewer there. Cary’s coming in, Apex is coming in, Durham’s coming in, but the vast majority of the property east of the lake is very, very challenging soils.

Speaker 1:           That’s where?

Speaker 2:           This area right here. Yeah. Those are packed, chalky white soils.

Speaker 1:           Meaning it’s not a good place to have a septic?

Speaker 2:           Yeah, well, you’ll have to do some kind of engineered septic, which will either be a spray or a drip system, and those are between 25 and $50,000 right now. The average home there is like 500 to 600,000, so it’s not a huge deal to have 25 to $50,000 systems. That’s one of the reasons. Some of the larger homes up in Rosemont off O’Kelly Drive have $150,000 septics for an individual house, but these are 8, 10, 12,000 square foot homes. These are monster, monster homes. Right around here in the lake is very difficult. People say that’s why they built the lake there. It’s because it holds water. Well, holding water is not good for septic systems.

Our second most populated area is this North Chatham area. That North Chatham area actually has good soils, but it also has a heck of a lot of rock. We are growing boulders in this part, and so that’s challenging because you have to have the septic lines go between the boulders, and it can get expensive because rock is expensive to move when you’re trying to build a house or have some kind of basement, but the soils really aren’t that bad here. Just a lot of enormous, enormous rock.

One of the sad things about our county is probably the best soils in the entire county are right along Pittsboro and Siler City, and the best soils in the county follow right along 64. If you drive down this road, you’ll see red crumbly, dirt all the time. That is the best soil. This whole swath right here, it always makes me … A little tear rolls down my cheek when I see construction happening in Pittsboro because I look at that red, crumbly dirt, and I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s the best soil in all of Chatham county.” But we have sewer here in Pittsboro, so it doesn’t matter. Same thing in Siler City, but this whole corridor right here is really fantastic. Soils the best in the county. Then we have the Silk Hope area, and the Silk Hope area is hit or miss. We have some chalky white there, we have some rock, but there are, every now and then, good spots in the Silk Hope area.

Speaker 1:           I see a lot of grapes being grown in Silk Hope and a couple apple trees. Peaches.

Speaker 2:           Well, yeah, peaches are new because it used to be Georgia and South Carolina were the peach states and now North Carolina. It was unheard of to grow peaches, but that’s a climate thing. The grape thing, the reason why you’re seeing some of that in Silk Hope, is because there is some topo, some elevation, and they wanted a little bit cooler, a little bit more elevation. That’s why you see it in Silk Hope. Also the soils are supposed to be good. There’s an old vineyard just south of Siler City. There’s a couple in Silk Hope, and there’s a couple out by the lake too. But I think that’s more of a touristy thing than it is a soils thing right now.

The other area, basically this big zip code right here, the Bear Creek area, that’s hit or miss. These are a little bit more challenging. It does have some good dirt and some bad dirt. The problem with a lot of this dirt is it’s shallow, and you need 28 to 32 inches of dirt, but they don’t have that. Then this southwest corridor area right here, we call flat woods, and this needs to be a lake. It is the most challenging soil in all of Chatham. Well, it’s probably comparable to that 751 area. It just is packed, chalky white. Not only is it difficult to get a perk site in this area, but an acre of land in this area is between 50 and $100,000. An acre of land in this area is between two and $5,000. People aren’t willing to make the investment for the septics just because of the property values.

What we’re looking for, if you want to know whether or not your property has good soils, we’re looking for red crumbly, 28 to 32 inches deep, red crumbly. You can see red and you go, “Oh yeah, I got red soil. That’s good.” But if it’s clay, if you can actually pinch it into a pot or roll it into a ball, that’s not good. If you see a lot of rock, or if you see yellow or gray or chalky white, that’s bad. One of the interesting things about Chatham county is here we have Alamance county. Good soils. Here we have Randolph county. Good soils. Here we have Lee county. Good soils. We’re the ones that have the mix. I think Chatham county is prettier, but it is a challenge. We’ve discussed before the most important thing before you consider purchasing a piece of property is to have the soils evaluated.