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Wollongong City Council

Land Application Areas

Land application areas are approved areas where effluent – or what comes out of an on-site sewage system – can be disposed of.

Land application areas can provide an environmentally friendly way to handle wastewater. In many cases, the wastewater is reused to nourish gardens and lawns.

The two main types of land application areas are:

  • Soil absorption systems usually involve effluent being directed below the surface of the ground where it is treated by the soil. These systems are not suited to sensitive areas because of the risk of contaminating surface and groundwater.
  • Irrigation systems can be installed below or on the surface to distribute pre-treated wastewater. Effluent is usually applied to the land area through drip, trickle or spray points. Surface irrigation can create a risk of human or animal contact with effluent, so extra care has to be taken designing these types of systems.

All land application areas need to be professionally designed to minimise their risk to human health and the environment. They also need to be set up with enough distance from buildings, waterways, and neighbours.

You need to keep people and animals away from your land application area. You must have at least two warning signs in place on the boundary of your land application area saying: ‘RECLAIMED EFFLUENT NOT FOR DRINKING - AVOID CONTACT’.

  • Build and maintain drains around the top side of your land application area to divert surface water
  • Keep your land application area level and fill in any depressions with good quality top soil
  • Mow the grass regularly, and consider planting small trees or shrubs around the border of your land application area to help absorb any extra moisture
  • Make sure run-off from roofs, driveways and other hard surfaces is directed away from the land application area
  • Fence the irrigation area
  • Make sure warning signs are visible at all times near spray irrigation areas
  • Get your irrigation system checked by a professional when they service your treatment system.
  • Don’t install any structures, pathways or other features over your land application area
  • Don’t drive over the area
  • Don’t plant trees or shrubs near or over any house drains
  • Don’t alter stormwater lines to direct them towards the land application area
  • Don’t flood the area by using hoses or sprinklers
  • Don’t let children, pets or other animals access the land application area
  • Don’t water fruit, vegetables and edible plants with effluent
  • Don’t extract groundwater for potable (drinking) use.

Keep an eye out for these signs your system and/or land application area may have a problem:

  • Wastewater pooling on the surface or running off the application area
  • Poor soil quality
  • Poor growth of plants or grass
  • Unusual odours.

If your land application area becomes waterlogged or soggy, it could be because:

  • The system has been overloaded with wastewater
  • The trench could be clogged with solids not trapped by the septic tank
  • The land application area is poorly designed
  • Stormwater may be running into the area.

Consult a qualified professional if you notice a problem with your land application area.