SCS Top 10 Upstream Measures to Prevent Landfill Leachate Generation

July 5, 2017

Landfill operators are seeking new means to dispose of leachate generated at their facilities more economically. Rising costs of leachate treatment at publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) obliges landfill operators to look for alternative disposal means at a lower price. These situations encourage landfill operators and consultants to do more with less when designing preventative solutions to reduce leachate generation in the first place.

Upstream measures to reduce leachate generation range from standard operating procedures to innovative ideas with significantly high benefit to cost ratios. SCS compiled a list of our Top 10 measures to consider, including:

1. Grading – Creating landfill plateaus to maximize rainwater runoff toward perimeter storm water ditches, using low permeable soil to seal landfill slopes that will not receive waste for an extended time.

2. Caps & Covers – Using temporary geomembrane caps over areas that will not receive waste for a long time. Constructing final cover over landfill final slopes to eliminate rainwater percolation into landfill.

3. Swales – Constructing temporary and strategic swales on landfill outside slopes to capture rainwater runoff before causing soil erosion on the slope and to convey runoff water to perimeter ditches.

4. Berms & Downchutes – Constructing temporary berms and swales on landfill slopes that drain toward new disposal cells to capture water before reaching waste in the new cell and directing water to perimeter ditches. Also, constructing a berm at the crest of slopes to minimize the flow of rainwater runoff over slopes that are causing soil erosion. Constructing engineered temporary and sturdy downchutes for rainwater runoff from top areas of the landfill to the perimeter ditches.

5. Tarps – Installing rain tarp over a portion of a new cell that will not be in service for some time.

6. Exposure – Minimizing exposure of the active face while the remaining areas are properly graded to shed rainwater runoff to perimeter ditches.

7. Shedding – Grading the top area of each lift to shed rainwater runoff to outside slopes and the perimeter ditches.

8. Plantings – Installing sod or seeding on exterior slopes and those interior slopes that will not receive waste for an extended time to reduce soil erosion.

9. Roads – Constructing ditches adjacent to access roads to safely convey runoff water to the bottom of the slope – pitching access roads toward the ditch adjacent to the road, and building a proper road surface to minimize erosion during severe storms while lasting long under traffic loading.

10. Maintenance – Establishing routine maintenance protocol for the aforementioned measures because regular maintenance sustains long life and performance.



For facilities outside the landfill area, special measures, such as using floating covers on leachate ponds or canopies over operations that could potentially generate leachate without the canopy, also help reduce leachate generation.

Upstream measures are not necessarily limited to our Top 10 list but depend on the type and extent of operations at a facility. The will of the landfill operator and the expertise of the solid waste engineer can go a long way to reducing leachate generation at landfill facilities, and we all strive for that.


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Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:03 am