Preferential flow in municipal solid waste and implications for long-term leachate quality: valuation of laboratory-scale experiments

N.H. Rosqvist, L.H. Dollar, Andy Fourie

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    46 Citations (Scopus)


    In this paper, we study and quantify pollutant concentrations after long-term leaching at relatively low flow rates and residual concentrations after heavy flushing of a 0.14 m(3) municipal solid waste sample. Moreover, water flow and solute transport through preferential flow paths are studied by model interpretation of experimental break-through curves (BTCs), generated by tracer tests. In the study it was found that high concentrations of chloride remain after several pore volumes of water have percolated through the waste sample. The residual concentration was found to be considerably higher than can be predicted by degradation models. For model interpretations of the experimental BTCs, two probabilistic model approaches were applied, the transfer function model and the Lagrangian transport formulation. The experimental BTCs indicated the presence of preferential flow through the waste mass and the model interpretation of the BTCs suggested that between 19 and 41% of the total water content participated in the transport of solute through preferential flow paths. In the study, the occurrence of preferential flow was found to be dependent on the flow rate in the sense that a high flow rate enhances the preferential flow. However, to fully quantify the possible dependence between flow rate and preferential flow, experiments on a broader range of experimental conditions are suggested. The chloride washout curve obtained over the 4-year study period shows that as a consequence of the water flow in favoured flow paths, bypassing other parts of the solid waste body, the leachate quality may reflect only the flow paths and their surroundings. The results in this study thus show that in order to improve long-term prediction of the leachate quality and quantity the magnitude of the preferential water flow through a landfill must be taken into account.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)367-380
    JournalWaste Management & Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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