Constructed Wetlands for the Treatment of Landfill Leachates

“Constructed Wetlands for the Treatment of Landfill Leachates”: A book that will provide an invaluable source of information on the subject for scientists, engineers, practitioners, policy makers, and regulatory officials.

Cover image of the constructed wetlands book.“Constructed wetlands can be an extremely low cost and highly sustainable method for landfill leachate treatment, making this publication a valuable resource”

Constructed wetlands are proving to be the best natural treatment system for landfill leachates.

Most of the contaminants in landfill leachates are degraded in treatment wetlands. Potential for long-term sustainability and significant cost savings are attractive features of this eco-technology.

Documentation of the experience in this use of constructed wetlands has been limited. Constructed Wetlands for the Treatment of Landfill Leachates is the first compilation of the results of research from North America and Europe.

Originally presented at an international symposium, this collection of papers offers the most recent research findings from the leading researchers in this new and innovative natural treatment system.

Specific issues addressed in the text include:

  • leachate characteristics, and the potential for treatability by constructed wetlands
  • wetland treatment, processes and transformation
  • use of constructed wetlands in cold climatic conditions
  • assessment of the tolerance of wetland plants to the toxicity of leachates
  • role of plants in the treatments of leachates
  • integrated wetland systems
  • performance of different wetland treatment systems
  • cost comparisons of wetland technology vs. traditional treatment technologies
  • The potential for environmental contamination due to leachates from landfills is increasing, and there is an urgent need to find ways and means to treat leachates in a sustainable way.

Leachate Treatment Using the Constructed Wetlands Technique

Constructed Wetlands for the Treatment of Landfill Leachates provides an invaluable source of information on the subject for scientists, engineers, practitioners, policy makers, and regulatory officials.

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More About Constructed Wetlands and Research in Progress

Constructed wetlands (aka engineered wetlands) provide natural treatment of industrial wastewater and landfill leachate. These are lined systems, protective of the environment, that mimic the steps found in more traditional wastewater treatment processes. The main difference is the trade-off of energy (labor, electricity, chemicals) in a traditional system for space, and the retention time of a wetland.

Types of Wetland Designs

Image which shows a Constructed Wetland, completed and ready to plant with reeds.
CC BY by Sustainable sanitation

These include vertical or horizontal subsurface flow, free water surface flow, and floating systems. Our wetlands are engineered for site-specific conditions and could include a combination of treatment stages depending on the contaminants.

Contrary to common belief, constructed wetland systems can be effective in cold-weather climates as demonstrated by numerous systems operating as designed in areas such as Minnesota and Canada.

Whether you need to meet strict NPDES discharge limits or local POTW requirements, wetlands may prove to be a fast, sustainable, and cost-effective solution for your facility. via USwetlands

How Wetlands May Solve the Biggest Headache Many Landfill Operators Experience

Landfill leachate (LL) is recognized as one of the most critical issues for landfill operators. Landfill leachate may contain large amounts of organic matter (biodegradable, and refractory to biodegradation), as well as ammonia-nitrogen, heavy metals (HM) and chlorinated organic and inorganic salts.

Man-Made-Wetland Technologies

Image shows reeds growing well in this constructed wetland.
CC BY by Sustainable sanitation

Various landfill leachate treatment technologies have been broadly used, including biological processes (aerobic, anaerobic and anoxic) and physicochemical processes (oxidation, precipitation, coagulation/flocculation, ozonation, activated carbon adsorption, electrochemical oxidation, Fenton process, membrane filtration).

Constructed wetlands are classified among the biological methods that use phytoremediation for polluted liquid treatment. They are defined as engineered systems that use natural processes (vegetation, soils and microorganisms) to remove, transform and degrade pollutants from wastewater, creating an efficient synergic effect.

Can they be Truly Effective?

The effectiveness of constructed wetlands for landfill leachate treatment has been extensively demonstrated and its full-scale implementation is rising among regions given its adaptability and capacity to efficiently treat landfill leachate. via

Constructed wetland treatment is an engineered method of purifying waste water by letting it through soil filters on which natural wetland species are grown. It is considered as an effective and reliable treatment and has found wide usage.

Constructed Wetlands Technique

Constructed wetland in Olympic Forest Park
The Olympic Forest Park wetland is located north of the city center of Beijing, the capital of the Peoples Republic of China. Photo by: J. Germer in 2008, Beijing. – CC BY by Sustainable sanitation

The main purpose of this research is to study the best effective method for treating leachate using  the constructed wetlands technique.

The pollutants are removed by various physical, chemical and bio-geochemical processes like sedimentation, absorption, nitrification and phytoremediation.

The aim of this research has been to study the effectiveness of the wetland plant Typha in the treatment of Leachate wastewater. via

Man-Made Wetland Pilot at the Dragonja Landfill

A pilot constructed wetland (CW), as an innovative technology that provides simple and inexpensive waste water treatment was introduced for landfill leachate treatment at the Dragonja landfill site on the Adriatic coast.

The system consists of two interconnected beds with a subsurface flow, covering an area of 450 m2. An average hydraulic load was 3cm d−1.

The influent concentrations were for COD 1264mg 1−1, BOD5 60 mg 1−1, NH3-N 88 mg 1−1, undissolved solids 400 mg 1−1, and Fe 10 mg 1−1.

Monitoring of CW performance was initiated in 1992 by analysing physical, chemical and microbiological parameters.

Evident reductions after the initial period have been achieved in COD (68%), BOD5 (46%), NH3-N (81%), Fe (80%), and bacteria (85%).

The results show that CW was fairly efficient, although it was very difficult to determine the proper area especially because of specific hydraulic and pollution fluctuations. via

Other Resources

Constructed wetlands for landfill leachate treatment – Barr – 1999 – Waste Management and Research – Wiley Online Library. via

Municipal leachate was treated in an experimental unit of constructed wetlands of subsurface flow type. The parameters studied were organics (BOD and COD), solids and heavy metals (Zn, Ni, Cu, Cr and Pb).

Using two types of emergent plants of Scirpus globulosus and Eriocaulon sexangulare, more than 80% removal was achieved for all the parameters. E. sexangulare removed organics and heavy metals better than Scirpus globulosus.

A higher concentration of heavy metals in the influent did not change the removal efficiency. via

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