Leachate Treatment Process – 5 Top Steps to Designing One

Are you Designing a Leachate Treatment Process? If so, you will need to correctly select the best process design, and use the most efficient of all possible leachate treatment process.

If that's you, you really should study what's important. Quite simply, you should read this!

“Designing a Leachate Treatment Process is a complex task given the many possible process options available nowadays for leachate treatment, but just as in so many tasks, following simple steps can produce the most successful results”.

A leachate treatment process selection batch reactor pilot plant - as used when Designing a Leachate Treatment Process.
A Batch Reactor Pilot Plant set up typical for leachate treatment studies.


Today, people are facing many challenges. To select and operate a successful leachate treatment process is a challenge many people face daily. A lot of folks have great results so are successful.

Other folks struggle but just do not appear to make any real progress. Many individuals work tirelessly at it but get few good results. What is the difference here, the key ingredient to success?

And, how could you become one of those that succeeds?

Success will depend on making a good plan, an essential factor in knowing what to do and why, before you start. It's easy whenever you get each of the steps organised before you start.

So how about yourself?

Do you really want to win at the selection and operation of a successful leachate treatment process? Then you really should study and discover what's important first. Quite simply, you need to build up your knowledge.

Selecting a Leachate Treatment Process in 5 Steps

Here are 5 steps to take to greatly boost your prospects of succeeding to select and operate a successful leachate treatment process:

1. Discharge Location

The first thing to decide is where the treated effluent will be discharged to.

So why might this make a difference? The degree of purity which the leachate treatment process will have to achieve will vary with the discharge type, so you should apply for a watercourse discharge consent or a discharge to the public sewer via a pipeline as the lowest cost options in most locations.

O.K., so when I follow this recommendation, what might one expect to occur?

The body responsible for issuing the consent will provide a list of contaminants and concentrations for those, above which the discharge consent or permit will prohibit discharge.

This provides the target discharge water quality, which the leachate treatment process will have to achieve reliably.

2. Incoming (Raw) Leachate Quality

Predict the raw leachate quality which will apply when it is removed from the landfill for treatment.

The reason that is important, is that :

This is the starting point for the leachate treatment process design. It also could be important since weaker leachate will quite possibly be best treated, by a different process, to that used on the stronger leachates.

3. Volume of Flow

Calculate the volume of leachate expected to need treatment. The reason for this is that the larger the volume which must be treated, and the stronger it is, the larger the leachate treatment plant will have to be.

One other reason in its favour is the landfill operator will become very aware of the cost of the treatment process, and be encouraged to minimise leachate generation by covering the site etc, as soon possible to keep the waste dry/keep the leachate which will require treating to as low a volume as possible.

4. Water Quality Analysis

Image shows the equipment which is used for taking a water sample for water quality analysis.
Equipment which is typically used for taking a water sample for leachate water quality analysis. Click on image to enlarge – CC BY-NC-ND by richie rocket

Carry out water quality analysis for trace dangerous/ toxic chemicals which may be present in the leachate.

Alright, so what is significant with this?

The presence of hazardous substances may render the process design worthless, unless a check is carried out for any possible side effects or reactions which may hinder biological treatment.

Might there be one more reason why?

Operating a successful biological LTP requires a full knowledge of:

  • incoming leachate quality,
  • the level of contaminants requiring removal for aeration oxygen demand assessment, and
  • reactor sizing requirements, plus
  • the presence of any inhibitory substances.

5. Finally, Select Your Process Based on the Data Obtained from the Preceding Monitoring Actions

Use the data collected under the preceding steps to select a primary leachate treatment process, and then any tertiary / polishing stages required to provide a process which will comply with the discharge consent requirements.

Just what exactly could be said in favour of this?

Choosing the primary stage process is important as this is where in excess of 90% of the overall contamination will be removed and follow that by the additional process or processes needed for the plant to work correctly.
What alternative reasons might there be in favour of this?

Get the most important part of the process design right and you are well on the way to a successful leachate treatment process design in total.


For the very best results in selection and operation of a successful leachate treatment process, just stick to the 5 tips above. Then succeed and luxuriate in the entire benefits, enjoyment and fruits which go with that success.

Neglecting them will set you up for mediocre results.

Plus, worse outcomes than those you may normally anticipate.

More on LTP Processes

Landfill leachate treatment is a major engineering challenge due to the high and variable concentrations of dissolved solids, dissolved and colloidal organics, heavy metals and organic contaminants.

Image shows a combined leachate and landfill gas extraction well.
A combined landfill gas and leachate extraction well.  Click on image to enlarge. – CC BY-NC-ND by Urban Woodswalker

Specific leachate management practices, such as recirculation (bioreactor landfill) and blending landfill gas with leachate, impact quality, resulting in characteristics that vary greatly from site to site. Cold temperature in winter is also a challenge to designing leachate treatment facilities (LTF) in cool climates.

Technologies for landfill leachate treatment include biological treatment, physical/chemical treatment and “emerging” technologies such as reverse osmosis (RO) and evaporation.

Biological leachate treatment is a proven technology for organics and ammonia removal in young and mature leachate. The anoxic/aerobic processes achieve nitrification and denitrification and reduce the oxygen demand for landfill leachate treatment.

Biological treatment methods include the activated sludge process (ASP), sequencing batch reactors (SBR), membrane bioreactors (MBR), aerobic lagoons and constructed wetlands. Physical-chemical treatment methods include oxidation, coagulation/flocculation, activated carbon, stripping, evaporation, filtration and RO.

The choice of technology depends largely upon characteristics of the leachate, discharge limitations (e.g., direct or indirect discharge), and site constraints. via esemag.com

The most common method of handling collected leachate is on-site treatment.

Traditional treatment has involved a modified form of activated sludge to substantially reduce the dissolved organic content. via en.wikipedia.org

It is often sufficient to treat the leachate to the extent that it can be passed off to the next municipal wastewater treatment plant for further processing.

If this is not possible, then it is necessary to treat the leachate up to a quality meeting the requirements for direct discharge. In this case, the remaining contaminant load is so low that the treated water may be released into a river, stream or lake. via www.das-ee.com

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