Operators know that selecting a Landfill Designer involves careful consideration of the designer’s experience and knowledge of construction to control costs and capital outlay.
Landfill operators usually seek to pay the lowest price for design work. While this is in line with the competitive market models, operators need to be sure that the designer’s experience lines up with their desired outcome, or problems may arise later for the operator. If the designer’s general or specific experience in the region is lacking, reconsider your selection parameters.
General experience is the comprehensive knowledge of landfill design and the development of expertise gained on similar projects over an extended period. A few project experiences in the remote past do not adequately qualify a designer. Experience in the region means that your designer has designed and developed similar projects in the larger vicinity of the project.
Regional experience demonstrates that the designer has significant knowledge of geology, hydrogeology, climatology, and available constructions materials in the area. Without this level of experience and understanding, the operator risks ending up with a system that does not function well and may be susceptible to environmental conditions, causing excessive project maintenance costs over time.
I recommend that operators work with a known entity; look for a designer who has done similar projects on numerous occasions in your region, and who can provide proof of their experience and knowledge to design according to your specific goals. A designer may not meet the criteria of the least expensive vendor, but a properly designed and constructed project can save a tremendous amount of money by:
Landfills are unique systems that require explicit design and construction criteria in order to operate seamlessly and safely for a very long period of time. Developing landfills generally takes several decades to complete and requires a substantial amount of knowledge and design consistency to ensure that the various landfill components function together.
Some operators change designers every few years without realizing that they risk inconsistencies in the design and construction every time a new designer comes into the picture. For this reason, I recommend that operators find the most qualified designer who is also very familiar with the construction and field maintenance of similar projects, and then stick with that designer for a long time.
At times, several different designers may be involved with various components of the landfill. To improve design consistency, I recommend that the most experienced design group review each design package regularly in order to help eliminate inconsistencies, improve the overall design integrity, and facilitate proper operation of the constructed systems during operation.
About the Author: Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Vice President of SCS Engineers and the firm’s National Expert for Landfill Design, CQA, and Elevated Temperature Landfills (ETLFs). Ali has 40+ years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering acquiring extensive experience and knowledge in the areas of geology, hydrogeology, hydrology, hydraulics, liquids management, construction methods, material science, construction quality assurance (CQA), and stability of earth systems.
He applies his experience in the siting of numerous landfills and the remediation of hazardous waste contaminated sites. Ali’s expertise includes the design and permitting of civil/environmental projects such as surface water management systems, drainage structures, municipal solid waste landfills, hazardous solid waste landfills, low-level radioactive waste landfills, leachate and wastewater conveyance, and treatment systems.
His cross-practice experience includes the design of gas collection and disposal systems, hazardous and non-hazardous waste impoundments, storage tank systems, waste tire processing facilities, composting facilities, material recovery facilities, leachate evaporator systems, and liquid impoundment floating covers.