Drip irrigation systems are an efficient and proven technology many communities use to recycle and dispose of treated wastewater effluent. The treated wastewater is applied to the soil slowly and uniformly from a network of narrow tubing, placed in the ground at shallow depths of 6 to 12 inches in the plant root zone. Because water is such a precious commodity, recycling wastewater can have both economic and environmental benefits for communities. As populations grow, the burden to local streams and rivers is increasing. Reusing wastewater to irrigate land can help protect surface water resourcesby preventing pollution and by conserving potable water for other uses. This is particularly important where community water supply sources rely on wells. The more water that is pumped from wells and discharged into a stream or other surface water, the less will be available to recharge aquifir or ground water sources upon which future well water supplies rely.
Another benefit of applying wastewater to the land is that the soil provides additional treatment through naturally occurring physical, biological and chemical processes. Irrigating with wastewater also adds nutrients and minerals to soil that are good for plants and it helps to recharge valuable groundwater resources.
Drip systems deliver wastewater below ground and do not produce aerosols, buffer zones are considerably less than what is required for spray systems. This makes it an attractive option for developers when looking at increasing density in a development. Achieving higher land use densities with desirable open spaces are importatant and shared goals of land use planners, environmentalists and developers alike. The lack of sewer availability clearly limits density and drives up the cost of providing greenways and open spaces. Developments on septic can therefore, indirectly, contribute to an undesirable sprawl and limit land available for playgrounds, hiking trails and other open space amenities. Small community systems can fill the void, permitting desirable increased density with greater open space, but at a reasonable cost.
Soil reuse systems require less monitoring intensity and thus lower operating costs when compared to surface discharge. Additionally, the potential for a wastewater discharge permit application being contested by adjacent or down stream property owners is substantially reduced when considering a drip disposal system for wastewater effluent discharge.