Landfills are complex systems with many pipes for liquids and landfill gas running in many different directions. Some of these pipes are at the bottom of the landfill, such as leachate collections pipes, leachate toe drain pipes, pressure release pipes, etc. Other pipes are near the final cover system, either below or above, and closely interact with the final cover geosynthetics. Many of these are for control of landfill gas or leachate seeps at the landfill surface. Pipes may include vertical gas wells, horizontal gas wells, condensate sumps, condensate force main, compressed air lines to gas well pumps and condensate sumps, seep control sumps, electric conduits to condensate sumps and seep control sumps, leachate recirculation force main, stormwater downchutes, etc.
When pipe locations are near the final cover geosynthetics, below or above, or penetrating the final cover, design plans should show details of how the pipes or associated components interact with the final cover components. Lack of sufficient information may cause difficulties years later when scheduling the construction of the final cover. Most often, it becomes evident that many of the pipes constructed years earlier are too short for extending through the final cover.
Another aspect of piping and their interaction with the final cover is conflicts among different pipes, more specifically conflicts among gas pipes and liquid carrying pipes, in and near the final cover system. Liquid carrying pipes may include stormwater downchutes, rainwater toe drain pipes, and leachate toe drain pipes. Stormwater downchutes are usually large diameter pipes extending from the top of the landfill to the perimeter stormwater system. Rainwater toe drain pipes – pipes that receive water from the final cover geocomposite drainage layer, and leachate toe drain pipes – to collect leachate seeps below the final cover geomembrane, are co-located at terraces on slopes and the toe of the slope near the perimeter berm.
A few design considerations can be useful as guidelines during the preparation of design sets to address the relative position of these pipes and the final cover geosynthetics or to avoid conflict among pipes.
The complexity of landfills varies from site to site, and issues related to conflicts among gas and liquids pipes, and pipes and final cover geosynthetics vary depending on the geometry and other landfill features involved at each location. The best way to resolve conflicts before construction is to have a coordinated effort among parties involved in the design to discuss and find solutions to every conflict at the design stage.
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.
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