Landfill Leachate Seeps – Prepare Ahead to Avoid the Consequences

June 22, 2020

SCS Advice from the Field Series

Leachate seeps from relatively wet landfills are a fact of life for some operators.  Leachate seeps increase in intensity and frequency after a storm, and you’re wondering, how many seeps today; are they reaching the stormwater ditches, detention ponds, or wetlands?

We all deal with daily job challenges, but why not prepare better for this particular problem, given the consequences? Sitting back and waiting for a seep to appear and then scrambling to come up with a solution is obsolete and can be costly.

The timing of handling leachate seeps is as vital as submitting compliance data to regulatory agencies on time. Rapid mitigation of leachate seeps is of ample problem before it turns into a compliance issue and exposing yourself to scrutiny by regulators. We all know that no compliance officer at the corporate office wants to hear from a facility the news of another compliance issue. To get a handle on managing leachate seeps, today’s operator has an arsenal of controls suited for different stages of a landfill’s operation. These controls may vary from the dry season to the wet season, as well.

As the landfill operator, you review the facility operation plan prepared by your engineer from the back to the front to make sure the document addresses all operations. The same document can also include descriptions of seep management controls. You simply request written solutions from your engineer, incorporating controls and guidelines into your operations plan. Your staff now has immediate means to combat the problem following the site operator’s direction using these pre-established guidelines.

With the controls in your facility operations plan, regulatory agencies won’t need to ask for the information. The operations plan has put forward a set of guidelines for the management of leachate seeps in your operations plan, and they became aware of these guidelines during the review of your document submitted to their office as part of intermittent or a renewal submittal. Inspectors are aware that your staff follows the guidelines when necessary; otherwise, non-compliance issues arise. Having an inspector observe a seep closing in on a stormwater ditch isn’t going to do much for your landfill’s standing. The regulators are well informed and understand leachate seep prevention. They will work with you during the implementation of remediation measures based on the guidelines in the facility operations plan.

A reliable engineer will suggest, even emphasize, these measures to clients. You, as the operator, are not only prepared, your site engineer and staff are too. Significant unexpected expenses associated with managing leachate seeps are a thing of the past, and inspectors can be confident that your management of leachate control is appropriate.


About the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

Learn more at Landfill Engineering







Posted by Diane Samuels at 9:02 am