A surface irrigation sprinkler
Surface irrigation uses a network of drip, trickle or spray points to apply effluent just above the ground's surface.
This application system can only be used with effluent treated to a secondary or tertiary standard (such as aerated wastewater treatment systems or membrane filtration).
Chlorination, the most common type of effluent disinfection, does not kill all bacteria and viruses, so surface irrigation poses a public health risk unless systems are well designed and maintained. Advanced aerated wastewater treatment systems with membrane filtration, which use UV disinfection to kill nearly all viruses and bacteria, are safer for surface irrigation.
Common problems with surface irrigation are:
- surface saturation and effluent runoff into stormwater drains, creeks or neighbouring properties
- unreliable aeration or disinfection systems can cause irrigation with contaminated effluent
- system not designed or approved for its location
- no service agreement with a qualified service provider for regular maintenance and inspections.