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Surface irrigation has long been a well-suited means for applying wastewater to agricultural and nonagricultural land, and has proven to be a viable option to surface water discharge and subsurface disposal. In North Carolina these systems have often been designed as last resort options or as only options to the user due to site conditions and nutrient-sensitive receiving streams. Systems have been poorly engineered and operated, and many times proposed for sites with poor conditions and misrepresented as to their potential. Surface irrigation systems require an engineering understanding that recognizes soil and site conditions, hydrogeologic conditions, and agronomic applications as equally important design components to that of sanitation and irrigation engineering which historically includes pump and pipe flow as well as water quality and treatment.
Successful system operation hinges on accurate soil and site investigations, suitable agronomic receiver sites (agricultural, forested, urban areas, recreational areas...), proper design of wastewater treatment methods and components, and a firm understanding of disposal methods. This paper explores remedies to common problems encountered with spray irrigation systems in central and eastern North Carolina.
Systems such as these have the potential to provide more than just a means for waste disposal; they are capable of providing water and nutrients to allow for the production of agricultural crops, horticultural crops, and forest products as well. In addition, these systems offer potential development of urban areas including area beautification of (rights-of-ways, common areas, etc.,...) and recreation facilities such as golf courses, athletic fields, parks, and even resort areas. However, these benefits can only be obtained through careful planning and management.
overloading, runoff, forested systems, application rate, surface irrigation, management
Wastewater Site Coordinator, Garner, NC
Professor & Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Professor, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC