Performance of a Surface-Flow Constructed Wetland Treating Landfill Surface-Water Runoff
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Landfills are a major potential source of groundwater and surface-water contamination. The compounds that can leach from landfilled materials include dissolved organic matter, inorganic macrocomponents, heavy metals, and xebobiotic organic compounds. Landfill surface-water runoff poses a threat to the environment due to high mobility, but has not been rigorously characterized with regards to common pollutants found in landfills. It is well documented that constructed wetlands can serve as an effective treatment option for many pollutants found in landfills. The Napanee Landfill has constructed a wetland in order to treat surface-water runoff coming off the landfill. The objectives of this study were to: 1) characterize the water chemistry of surface-water runoff for an inactive landfill; 2) evaluate the treatment potential for the constructed wetland system at the Napanee Landfill; and, 3) recommend design, maintenance, and operative improvements to enhance effluent water quality. The analysis of the landfill surface-water runoff entering the Napanee Landfill constructed wetland included the pollutants nitrate, ammonia, sulphate, phosphorus, and chloride. The median inflow and outflow concentrations for all of the observed pollutants did not exceed Canadian federal or provincial water quality guidelines. There were sampling days where ammonia, phosphorus, and chloride exceeded guidelines at the inflow and days where ammonia and chloride exceeded guidelines at the outflow. The only pollutant that saw a statistically significant decrease in concentrations was sulphate, with a change of 38% from the inflow to the outflow. Other changes of note were nitrate and phosphorus concentrations increasing by 50% and 23% respectively from the inflow to the outflow. There are a variety of improvements that can be made to the Napanee Landfill constructed wetland that would increase the treatment efficiency of ammonia. Incorporating a vertical-flow wetland would increase available surface area for nitrifying bacteria growth and would provide more oxygen for nitrification processes; both would increase the potential for significant ammonia treatment. Overall, the concentrations of the pollutants found in the surface-water runoff coming off of the Napanee Landfill constructed wetland did not pose a significant threat to the environment at the time of sampling and treatment processes were only successful in reducing sulphate pollutant concentrations.