solid waste engineering

SCS Engineers Welcomes Maura Dougherty to Our Solid Waste Engineering Practice

January 5, 2021

FAST-41 permitting SCS Engineers

Maura Dougherty is joining SCS’s Southwest Business Unit as a Senior Project Manager in the solid waste engineering practice. Dougherty will execute engineering design, operations support, and construction quality assurance projects. She is responsible for project management, client service, business development, technical leadership, and overseeing professional staff teams. Dougherty reports to Vice President and Southwest Business Unit Director of Engineering, Vidhya Viswanathan, P.E., from SCS’s Pleasanton office.

“Maura is a senior professional with proven extensive success in solid waste engineering, construction, and construction quality assurance solutions,” said Viswanathan. “Her experience managing landfill and landfill gas collection and control system engineering and construction projects strengthen our efforts to support our solid waste and recycling clients.”

Dougherty is a registered Professional Engineer in California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. She brings over 20 years of experience overseeing landfill engineering and construction projects, coordinating with regulatory staff, conducting design and technical reviews, and supporting construction work. Dougherty earned her B.S.E. in civil engineering at the University of Princeton and her M.S. in environmental engineering from U.C. Berkeley.

 

Welcome to the SCS Team – Driven by Client Success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Advice from the Field: Knowledge of Landfill Sites and Efficacy of Conducting Due Diligence

December 21, 2020

web version

It is not out of the ordinary to see several different landfill designers providing services at a specific site over many years. Each landfill designer brings his/her preferences and designs to the owner, depending on the urgency of the projects and the owner’s willingness to accept new concepts.

Experienced landfill designers review the prior history of design work at the facility and ensure that their new design work is compatible with previously developed cells and final covers. Lack of such due diligence could impede landfilling operations following implementation of the design with implications that may survive for many years to come at a high cost to the owner.

Proper due diligence may reveal issues that the owner may not be aware of. In such cases, the new landfill engineer attempts to explain the observed issues from a previous design to the owner’s attention during one or more meetings or through a narrative report including documentation of the issues and measures to address each issue. The owner may accept or reject the technical matters brought to their attention by the new landfill designer. If accepted, authorize the new design engineer to prepare proper plans and details, and assist in retaining a contractor to fix noted problems. If rejected, the new landfill engineer can feel confident he/she is professionally conducting himself/herself considering the ethical obligations in his/her profession.

If the new landfill engineer had not brought up issues discovered during the due diligence, the owner could blame the new designer claiming that he/she should have known better. Such situations do not get resolved easily and could lead to another change in the design team.

The cost of performing thorough due diligence may not be in the first task order’s budget. However, it will certainly pay off over time with back-to-back task orders from the owner when confidence n the designer’s capabilities build over time.

Changes to the landfill personnel may occur similar to any other organization. Landfill general managers, operation managers, site engineers, or compliance engineers may leave, and the position filled by a new person who has no site familiarity or history. These types of rotations can provide the opportunity for inexperienced landfill designers to influence the site’s long-term plans. Mistakes by inexperienced designers can last decades in some instances, while new and remaining personnel must deal with the consequences.

SCS’s project management protocols require project managers to constantly learn about the site’s history and review documents representing the backbone of the facility development over the long-term life of the site to the present. This type of continual learning of important matters and minute nuances of the site history equips a project manager to address technical and permitting issues based on knowledge of prior work performed at the facility. Implementation of new ideas based on prior knowledge of the site history is considered the backbone of properly managing projects and serving the client in consideration of their business priorities.

Past knowledge comes from documents prepared by prior designers and knowledge of site personnel who have been working at the site for a long time. Competent engineers welcome opportunities to interview and discuss site history, especially with long-term site personnel. The knowledge these people carry with them is not found in any document that the designer, if lucky enough to get his/her hands-on, may obtain by review. The knowledge of the changes to existing systems during original construction and a later date, which may not have been documented, can lead the engineer to concepts that otherwise would not have been envisioned without the long-term employee’s information of the site.

As a landfill designer, never assume that you know everything about the site; there are always things hiding deep in the landfill that you may learn.

 

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, Construction Quality Assurance, and Elevated Temperature Landfills. He has over 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

SCS Advice from the Field: Standard Coordinate Systems for Landfill Topographic Maps

November 30, 2020

graphic by Samuels of SCS Engineers

Landfill engineers rely heavily on topographic maps in their design work. Topographic maps present elevation contours, known as contour lines, for changes in the ground surface. Surveying companies create contour lines by performing land surveys, Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) surveys, or aerial mapping. In all cases, the topographic maps are generated based on a standard coordinate system.

Basing horizontal systems on geodetic coordinates worldwide, they may be updated every few years or decades. An example of the horizontal coordinate system is the North American Datum (NAD). A datum is a formal description of the Earth’s shape and an anchor point for the coordinate system. Using the NAD system, engineers can make horizontal measurements in consideration of the anchor point information.

NAD 27 and NAD 83 are two versions of the NAD system with slightly different assumptions and measurements. A point with specific latitude and longitude in NAD 27 Datum may be tens of feet away from a point with similar latitude and longitude in NAD 83 Datum.

The latitude and longitude of an initial point (Meads Ranch Triangulation Station in Kansas) define the NAD 27 Datum. The direction of a line between this point and a specified second point and two dimensions define the spheroid. Conversely, NAD 83 Datum uses a newer defined spheroid, the Geodetic Reference System of 1980 (GRS 80). GRS 80 is an Earth-centered or geocentric datum having no initial point or initial direction.

Similarly, vertical systems provide surveyors the means to measure vertical measurements based on a standard system. Examples of the vertical datum are the National Geodetic Vertical Datum 1929 (NGVD 29) and North American Vertical Datum 1988 (NAVD 88).

Using topographic maps, solid waste engineers pay special attention to the standard coordinate system used for generating the topographic map made available to them for their design work. Engineers will want to check for additional topographic maps using another Datum for the same site. Checking eliminates the possibility of discrepancies in the design documents.

Typically, the standard system set for a landfill site remains unchanged for consistency among topographic maps generated over the years. If the standard system must change, document the conversion making it available to the solid waste engineers working at the site. The conversion information is valuable for converting engineering plans to prevent the older plans from becoming obsolete and unusable for practical engineering work.

A solid waste engineer that begins work for the first time at an existing landfill site pays special attention to the standard system (horizontal or vertical). The engineer wants to ensure the time spent producing design documents and plans aren’t wasted. For optimum efficiency, landfill owners contracting with new solid waste engineers should provide conversion information from the old to the new system upon the contract’s commencement.

The United States National Spatial Reference System NAD 83(2011/MA11/PA11) epoch 2010.00, is a refinement of the NAD 83 datum using data from a network of very accurate GPS receivers at Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS). A new Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) will replace the National Spatial Reference System NAD 83 and the NAVD 88 in 2022, according to the National Geodetic Survey Strategic Plan 2019-2023. The GNSS will rely on the global positioning system and a gravimetric geoid model resulting from the Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV-D) Project. The new systems’ intention is easier access and maintenance than NAD 83 and NAVD 88, which rely on physical survey targets that deteriorate over time.

Solid waste engineers should be aware of the upcoming changes to adapt site designs as necessary and to check with landfill owners and operators to check for any implementations at their facilities.


 

About the Authors:

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, Construction Quality Assurance, and Elevated Temperature Landfills. He has over 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering. Dr. Khatami has been involved for more than 30 years in the design and permitting of civil/solid waste/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, gas management systems, hazardous waste impoundments, storage tank systems, waste tire processing facilities, composting facilities, material recovery facilities, landfill gas collection and disposal systems, leachate evaporator systems, and liquid impoundment floating covers. Dr. Khatami has acquired extensive experience and knowledge in the areas of geology, hydrogeology, hydrology, hydraulics, construction methods, material science, construction quality assurance (CQA), and stability of earth systems. Dr. Khatami has applied this experience in the siting of numerous landfills.

William Richardson, EIT is Project Professional at SCS, and part of our Young Professionals organization. Will has two years of experience with landfill design projects, including permit modifications and siting requirements. He is currently working in Virginia Beach under the tutelage of Dr. Khatami.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

SCS Advice from the Field: Familiarization with Site History before Design Work for Landfills

November 23, 2020

Landfills are large and dynamic systems that can take several decades to develop. Unlike many other infrastructure projects that have a beginning and an end to the construction of the project, landfills constantly grow and change due to many factors, including but not limited to:

  • The type of waste stream delivered to the site;
  • Type of operations carried on at the site;
  • Operator’s experience and operational preferences;
  • Capital flow into the site;
  • State and local regulatory changes;
  • Engineer’s recommendations;
  • The rate of development around the site;
  • Interactions with local communities around the site;
  • Agreements with environmental groups; and
  • Political will and the extent of support by politicians.

From an engineering perspective, it is very common to see changes to the engineering team over time. Each team brings about their ideas and preferences to the operator, and if they present technically competent and economically solid ideas, they can change the course of the landfill development. The course change could be shaped by what will get constructed, how it will get constructed, when it will get constructed, and what sequence it will get constructed. In most cases, the owner is in the loop, but the owner may not be intimately familiar with the nuances that such designs and modifications entail. Therefore, the owner may not necessarily realize hidden problems or mishaps that may happen in the future, which could be prevented by the engineer at an earlier stage of work.

Competent engineers starting work at an existing landfill site for the first time need to review years of data to become familiar with the history of the site before they can begin design work. The history of the site involves, but is not limited to, land use approvals, permitting, designs, modifications, environmental impacts, subsurface conditions, environmental improvements, leachate and gas collection and disposal, existing and future planned developments, operation requirements, and many other features that vary from site to site. Without such knowledge, the engineer is working in the dark without the owner’s knowledge that the engineer’s path lacks familiarity with details. Work products generated by an engineer with limited familiarity with the site are, at best, not reliable. Even potentially having significant impacts on the owner to fix issues that otherwise are preventable with sufficient due diligence.

For example, tasking an engineer to close a portion of the landfill, the engineer must investigate any plans set for landfill development, in the area planned to close. The engineer and owner can discuss any problems discovered by the engineer’s early due diligence, and solutions will be developed and adopted to address issues during the design. This level of due diligence provides the opportunity to generate sound designs and develops a level of confidence in the engineer in the mind of the owner.

SCS landfill design professionals train regularly to be thorough and comprehensive in their familiarization with a site. They spend significant effort to foresee potential problems that might arise many years down the road and find solutions for them now.


 

About the Authors:

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, Construction Quality Assurance, and Elevated Temperature Landfills. He has over 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering. Dr. Khatami has been involved for more than 30 years in the design and permitting of civil/solid waste/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, gas management systems, hazardous waste impoundments, storage tank systems, waste tire processing facilities, composting facilities, material recovery facilities, landfill gas collection and disposal systems, leachate evaporator systems, and liquid impoundment floating covers. Dr. Khatami has acquired extensive experience and knowledge in the areas of geology, hydrogeology, hydrology, hydraulics, construction methods, material science, construction quality assurance (CQA), and stability of earth systems. Dr. Khatami has applied this experience in the siting of numerous landfills.

William Richardson, EIT is Project Professional at SCS, and part of our Young Professionals organization. Will has two years of experience with landfill design projects, including permit modifications and siting requirements. He is currently working in Virginia Beach under the tutelage of Dr. Khatami.

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

Global Waste Management Symposium 2020

February 23, 2020

Waste 360 will host its Global Waste Management Symposium 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, California, February 23-26, 2020.

The conference will feature world-class content, including innovative presentations by top industry experts; think technology, trends, critical issues, and scientific innovation; state-of-the-art breakthrough research; and showcases by leading suppliers of the latest solutions to the industry’s challenges.  SCS Engineers professionals speaking this year include the following:

global waste management symposium
Law

James Law will provide an Overview of ISWA’s Global Initiative on Closing Dumps, on Monday, February 24 at 2:00 pm (Track B: Waste Management Planning & Odor Control).

 

global waste management conference
Stege

Alex Stege will evaluate the Local Effects of California’s Senate Bill 1383: Changes to Organic Waste Disposal & Impacts on Methane Generation, Recovery, and Emissions on Monday, February 24 at 2:00 pm (Track C: Organic Management Policy/Strategies).

 

waste management symposium
DeSilva

Dr. Viraj DeSilva will deliver a presentation on PFAS Treatment – The Devil We Know and Need to Manage, on Tuesday, February 25 at 8:30 am (Track A: PFAS Management).

 

Iyer

Dr. Gomathy Iyer will discuss the Suitability of Un-Composted Grass Clippings and Biosolids as Biocovers for Biological Methane Removal from Landfills on Tuesday, February 25 at 8:30 am (Track B: Landfill Covers).

 

Huff

Ray Huff will demonstrate The WAG: An Innovation in Landfill Gas Data Analysis on Tuesday, February 25 at 1:30 pm (Track B: Landfill Gas Management) and at the Fugitive Air Emissions Workshop on Wednesday, February 26 at 10:00 am.

 

Sullivan

Pat Sullivan will provide a Comparison of Organic Waste Management Options in Terms of Air Quality and GHG Impacts on Tuesday, February 25 at 3:30 pm (Track A: Life Cycle Assessment).

 

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is a strategic partner of this conference to deliver a program that is more technical, innovative and essential than ever before. The core education of GWMS is the submission of comprehensive abstracts in all areas related to solid waste engineering and management that have been vetted by GWMS’s committee of industry experts. The presentations will be given by researchers from top academic institutions and industry experts.

For the complete agenda, updates, and to register, visit the conference website.

 

 

 

Posted by Laura Dorn at 8:00 am