By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
With leachate totals on the rise in Davis at the Tucker County landfill, Mark Holstine and Thomas Mayor Jodie Flanagan have been working with David Watson of Civil and Environmental Consultants Engineering (CEC) to produce a comprehensive plan. The plan would incorporate a way to pipe some of the leachate to Thomas from the Davis landfill.
Leachate is defined as any contaminated liquid that is generated from water percolating through a solid waste disposal site, accumulating contaminants, and moving into subsurface areas. A second source of leachate arises from the high moisture content of certain disposed wastes.
Groundwater, the source for wells and springs, supplies drinking water to over half of the people in this country and over 90 percent of the residents in rural areas. Of the population served by public water supplies, close to 40 percent rely on groundwater. Geological formations which yield significant amounts of groundwater are called aquifers. The top of the groundwater layer is called the water table.
Although traditionally groundwater has been assumed to be free from contamination, numerous discoveries in recent years of toxic chemicals in well water have proven this assumption to be false. Groundwater contamination from chemical dumpsites tends to attract the greatest public attention, but several other sources including landfills, septic systems, pesticides, and underground storage tanks also can be significant sources.
Water percolating through landfills produces leachate, which may contain undesirable or toxic chemicals. Modern sanitary landfills are constructed to prevent leachate contamination of groundwater or surface waters. The bottom of the landfill is lined with impermeable layers, and the leachate is collected and treated before being released to the environment.
According to the Conservation & Environmental Studies Center, Burlington County, NJ the factors affecting the composition of landfill leachate include the following. “Landfill material: Is it biodegradable or non-biodegradable? Is it soluble or insoluble? Organic or inorganic? Liquid or solid? Toxic or nontoxic? Landfill conditions: The pH, temperature, degree of ongoing decomposition, moisture content, climate, and landfill age. Characteristics of entering water: The pH, temperature, and amount. Soil characteristics under the landfill: Permeability, depth and thickness of geologic strata, and mineral content.”
After evaluating Thomas to ensure that they can handle the extra leachate and how to process it correctly, the first test runs should begin the beginning of April. The test runs will include a couple of loads totaling 20,000 gallons (about the volume of a one car garage) for lab testing. If the testing gets right, then there will an increase in the gallons. Total cost for the initial testing and evaluation from CEC is $45,000.
Currently this month the total gallons of leachate at the landfill were 357,580 gallons (about half the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool). There were 58 loads brought into the landfill with 22 loads from Moorefield,and 36 loads from Westernport, Maryland.
Holstine in describing the coalition between the landfill in Davis and the water treatment plant in Thomas said: “Trying to set some kind of example for others by having different entities working together” during the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority meeting.
The next meeting for the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority will be held April 29, 2022, at 1 p.m. and located at the Tucker County Landfill office.