Solid Waste Landfills in an Arid Environment : Site Selection and Design

Abstract: Selecting landfill sites is considered a complicated task because its whole process is based upon several factors and restrictions. This study shows the present status of solid waste management, sources, collection personnel, machinery and equipment that are involved in the waste collection process, financing and financial management for the major cities of the Babylon Governorate in Iraq (Al-Hillah, Al-Qasim, Al-Mahawil, Al-Hashimiyah and Al-Musayiab). The management of waste collection and disposal in the Babylon Governorate and its districts is through open waste dumps, so the quality of the collection and disposal process is poor, and these sites do not conform to the scientific and environmental criteria usually applied in the selection of landfill sites.In the first part of the current study, three methods were used to calculate the solid waste quantity for each specific year up to the year 2030 as well as the cumulative quantity of solid waste for the period (2020-2030) for Babylon Governorate. The results show the cumulative quantity of solid waste resulting from (method 3) receives a high value compared to other methods, and so it is used as a maximum value to estimate the required area for candidate sites for landfills in each district. The generation rate in 2030 will be (0.97, 0.69, 0.48, 0.62 and 0.91) (kg/capita/day) in (Al-Hillah, Al-Qasim, Al-Mahawil, Al-Hashimiyah and Al-Musayiab), respectively, based on method 3, where the estimated annual incremental generation rate is 1 %. The second part of this study aims to find the best sites for landfills in the arid areas that are distinguished by a shallow depth of groundwater. The Babylon Governorate was selected as a case study because it is located in an arid area, and the depths beneath the ground surface to the groundwater level are shallow.   For this purpose, 15 important criteria were adopted as follows: groundwater depth, rivers, soil types, agricultural land use, land use, elevation, slope, gas pipelines, oil pipelines, power lines, roads, railways, urban centers, villages and archaeological sites. These criteria were then entered into the geographic information system (GIS). The GIS software has a large capacity to manage and analyze various input data using special analysis tools. In addition, Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) methods were used to derive the relative weightings for each criterion in different styles. These methods are (Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), Simple Additive Weighting (SAW), Ratio Scale Weighting (RSW) and Straight Rank Sum (SRS)).Raster maps of the selected criteria were prepared and analyzed within the GIS software. The final map for candidate landfill sites was obtained through combining the GIS software and (MCDM) methods. Subsequently, comparison methods (Change Detection, Combination, Kappa and Overall Assessment) for each pair of raster maps that result from using the two different methods of multi-criteria decision making were implemented to determine the pixel percentage of matching and non-matching as well as to determine and check the suitability of the selected sites for landfills on both resulting maps using two methods.  Two suitable candidate sites for landfills were determined to fulfill the scientific and environmental requirements in each major city. These areas are (6.768 and 8.204) km2 in Al-Hillah, (2.766 and 2.055) km2 in Al-Qasim, (1.288 and 1.374) km2 in Al-Hashimiyah, (2.950 and 2.218) km2 in Al-Mahawil, and (7.965 and 5.952) km2 in Al-Musayiab. The required area of the selected sites can accommodate solid waste from 2020 until 2030 based on the required areas according to the third method.The third part of this study includes soil investigations for the selected landfill sites. The suggested design should ensure that there is no groundwater pollution by leachate from these sites because the groundwater depth is very shallow in the Babylon Governorate. To avoid this problem, soil investigation was conducted at these sites so that the most suitable landfill design could be established. Each site was subjected to field soil tests to find the composition of the soil strata at each site to a depth of 10 m, and these results were compared with the soil properties adopted for final site selection. The Iraqi Ministry of Housing & Construction, National Centre for Construction Laboratories and Research Babylon, Iraq, carried out the analytical work on the soil in 2016. The results of the soil investigation at these sites include the soil profile, groundwater depth, chemical properties, allowable bearing capacity, atterberg limits test results and material characteristics of the soil strata. According to the results of these tests, the best design is the one that puts the compacted waste at the surface.The fourth part of this study covers the selection of a suitable proposed design in the arid areas (Babylon Governorate, Iraq) for the selected landfill siting. In the current study, the design of this landfill includes the suggested soil layers for the liner system and final cover system.  For the base liner system (from the bottom toward the top), the composite bottom barrier layer consists of highly compacted sandy clay. The thickness of the bottom barrier layer is 60 cm, and its saturated hydraulic conductivity is 1.0E-7cm/s. The 1.5 mm thick geomembrane (HDPE), with hydraulic conductivity of 2.0E-13 cm/s, is placed over the composite bottom barrier layer. The leachate collection system consists of drainage layer (gravel) with a thickness of 30 cm and a hydraulic conductivity of 3.0E-1 cm/s. The diameter of the main drainpipes is between 15 and 20 cm. The protection layer consists of sand material, and its hydraulic conductivity is 5.0E-3 cm/s. The thickness of the protection layer is 30 cm.The compacted solid waste is placed upon the surface to a height of 2 m because of the shallow groundwater depth and to avoid groundwater contamination by leachate from the landfill site. The density of the compacted waste is 700 kg/m3, and its saturated hydraulic conductivity is 1.0E-5 cm/s.Three scenarios were used for the suggested designs for the final cover system of the landfills in arid areas. The first scenario was “evapotranspiration soil cover (ET) (capillary barriers type)”, the second scenario was a modified cover design of "RCRA Subtitle D", and the third scenario was the “Recommended design”. In this study, “Recommended design”, the third scenario for the final cover system, was adopted in the arid area (Babylon governorate, Iraq) based on combining certain layers from the first and second scenarios. For the three scenarios, the soil components in these designs used was based on available local materials in the study area. The layers of the base liner system were adopted in all scenarios.The third scenario for the final cover system, “Recommended design”, was implemented based on weather parameters in the arid areas. The water infiltrated from the surface of landfill is stored within upper layers that have fine particles. This allows the stored water to evaporate from the soil surface of the landfill or transpire through vegetation due to the high temperature during most months in the study area. The water that enters from the surface of the landfill should be contained above the geomembrane liner and top barrier layer without leakage into the waste body, thereby preventing leachate generation.For the layers of the final cover system (from the bottom to the top), the intermediate cover is used to cover the waste body, and this layer consists of moderate compacted silty clayey loam (native soil). The thickness of the intermediate cover is 30 cm, and its saturated hydraulic conductivity is1.0E-6 cm/s. The foundation layer consists of coarse sand material with a thickness of 30 cm and a saturated hydraulic conductivity of 1.0E-2 cm/s. This layer acts as a cushion for the layers of the final cover system. The gas collection system can be installed within the foundation layer.  The top barrier layer is placed over the foundation layer. This layer consists of highly compacted sandy clay of (45 - 60 cm) thickness with compacted lifts (each lift is 15 cm). The saturated hydraulic conductivity of the barrier layer is 1.0E-7 cm/s. The geomembrane liner, (HDPE) of 0.5 cm thickness and a saturated hydraulic conductivity of 2.0E-13 cm/s, is put on top of the barrier layer. The upper layers of the final cover system are the support vegetation layer and the topsoil layer. The composition of the support vegetation layer is moderate compacted loam. This layer is placed directly on the geomembrane liner. The saturated hydraulic conductivity of the support layer is1.0E-5 cm/s, and its thickness is 45 cm. The topsoil layer consists of silty clayey loam, and it is placed over the support vegetation layer with a slope of 3%. The thickness of the topsoil layer is 15 cm, and its hydraulic conductivity is 4.0E-5 cm/s.  The Hydrologic Evaluation of a Landfill Performance (HELP 3.95 D) model was applied to the selected landfill sites in the governorate to check if there could be any infiltration of the leachate that will result from the waste in the landfills in the selected sites in the future. The HELP model, which utilizes both weather and soil data, is the most commonly used model for landfill design, and it is employed to evaluate the quantity of water inflow through soil layers for the designed landfill. This suggested landfill is designed using the weather parameters (rainfall, temperature, solar, and the required date to calculate evapotranspiration) for the 12 consecutive years from 2005 to 2016, as well the required data for soil design.In the HELP model, the result for the suggested landfill design for both the recommended design (third scenario) and the second scenario was a modified cover design of "RCRA Subtitle D", which showed there was no leachate through the soil sub-layers, including the bottom barrier layer. The proposed design for the final cover system showed a reduction in the surface runoff and an increase in actual evapotranspiration. In the first scenario “evapotranspiration soil cover (ET) (capillary barriers type)”, there was no leachate percolation through the bottom barrier layer during the study years, apart from in 2013 and 2014. In these years, water percolation figures were 1.4E-5 and 4.0E-6 mm, respectively. These values are considered small, and they resulted from the high rate of rainfall during these years. Although, these values were small, they should still be taken into consideration when adopting this design in the study area.In the HELP model, the average annual and peak daily results for all scenarios showed that there was no water percolation through the bottom barrier layer during the years from 2005 to 2016.