It is now recognised that salinity in the urban environment is a serious issue. The geology of vast areas of the Sydney Basin, particularly in the western suburbs is conducive to salt attack. Salinity attacks houses, buildings and other structures and is manifest as:

  • Deteriorating bricks, mortar and concrete
  • Corroding metal buried in the ground and structural concrete
  • Shifting or sinking of foundations leading to structural cracking, damage or collapse

Salinity also;

  • breaks down roads and highways
  • damages underground pipes, cables and other infrastructure
  • kills trees, shrubs and grasses in recreational areas such as gardens

The seriousness of the salinity issue in the urban environment has already been recognised by the State and local government authorities and has precipitated the NSW Salinity Strategy. Several western Sydney councils now require salinity assessments to be undertaken on all new subdivision applications. This requirement is likely to spread to all other Council areas. It is possible that established housing estates will also have to be assessed for remediation purposes, given the emergence of the destructive effect of salinity on residences and factory sites.

Harvest Scientific Services can assess the salinity status of the soil within proposed subdivisions and other land development projects and favours the use of Electromagnetic Induction (EM) survey methods. The EM methodology is an indirect measurement of salinity and is based on the rapid accumulation of thousands of data points. The application of sophisticated processing and interpretation techniques means that the interpretation process is very rapid and requires only a limited soil sampling program for validation purposes. The time and cost savings associated with this methodology can be enormous when compared to other invasive soil surveys.

This methodology is invaluable for many areas of environmental investigation, including:

  • Locating saline bodies
  • Mapping soil types
  • Assessment of potential on-site effluent disposal

Our approach is suitable for the following types of development:

  • Small or large lot residential
  • Rural – residential
  • Disposal of industry (food processing, feedlot) effluent
  • Landscaping, parklands, recreational areas (golf courses)


Brickwork sufferring extensive saline destruction over time.


Paintwork falling off brickwork – first sign of saline conditions.


Electromagnetic Survey (EM 38) used to detect salinity carried out by Harvest Scientific Services.


Saline conditions have destroyed these brick footings.