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Soil survey copies are available

March 18, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Soil Conservation District is offering the public copies of an updated county soil survey that was released this week in electronic form.

The survey contains information about soil on all property in Washington County.

People can access the survey electronically from their homes for such purposes as making land-use decisions and determining a good place for a septic tank, said District Manager Elmer Weibley.

The survey is the result of about 10 years of work, he said.

The survey was last updated in 1962. It was first done in 1919. All Maryland counties have soil surveys.

The district is giving away copies of the survey on compact discs. To get a copy call the Soil Conservation District at 301-797-6821, extension 3, Weibley said.

The district has 100 copies of the compact disc now and will have 1,000 available by July. There also will be 500 printed copies of the study available for free distribution this summer, Weibley said.

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The survey can be downloaded from the Internet at www.md.nrcs.usda.gov/ tech/soils/soils2.htm, he said.

The survey contains information not only about the soil on a piece of property, but also about the level of flooding, the slope of the land and other information about the site, he said.

The survey also estimates how productive the soil would be for agriculture use and how suitable it would be for a septic tank, he said.

The cost of the study was about $750,000, Weibley said. The Washington County Board of Commissioners contributed $223,648 to the project in the early 1990s, he said.

As part of an agreement, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, collected the information for the survey and interpreted it, District Conservationist James Schlossnagle said.

The electronic survey is more efficient to use than the old way of looking up soil information in a book, Weibley said. Even people with little computer experience will be able to use the electronic version, he said.

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