residential wastewater lagoon

Residential Lagoons

The most common type of onsite wastewater treatment system used is a septic tank in combination with a drainfield.  When soil conditions are not suitable due to slow percolation rates, a residential lagoon system is a good option. Domestic sewage from the home flows through a pipe to a lagoon, where physical, biological, and chemical processes provide treatment. The majority of treated sewage is returned to the environment by evaporation to the air. Nebraska regulations allow a maximum of 1/8 inch of seepage per day from a residential lagoon.

Use and Maintenance

Proper use and maintenance of a residential lagoon are crucial for the system to treat domestic sewage. Maintenance consists of making sure that the gate and fence surrounding the lagoon are in good repair, managing vegetation in and around the lagoon, monitoring water color, and managing the water level so that there is always from 2 to 5 feet of water present. A properly designed, installed and maintained system should operate for decades. Treating wastewater minimizes the negative impact on groundwater, surface water and human health.

In Nebraska only a certified professional, registered environmental health specialist,  professional engineer or someone under their supervision may design, pump, install or repair any onsite wastewater treatment system. This includes residential lagoons.


Information presented within the onsite wastewater treatment section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska - Lincoln Onsite Wastewater Team members Jan Hygnstrom, Sharon Skipton, and Wayne Woldt.

Lagoons & Septic Systems - Made Easy for Homeowners
Everything you wanted to know about how the systems work and how to maintain.

Extension Publications on Lagoon Systems:

Residential Lagoon Design and Construction*

Residential Lagoon Maintenance*

Soil & Site Evaluation
Linked page with further information on the role of soil and site selection, soil permeability and testing.

Soil Survey Maps from the USDA web-based soil survey.

*pdf format. Download the free Acrobat Reader