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Proceeding of Jaffna University International Research Conference (JUICE 2016) Track: Biology and Environmental Sciences

Development of Leachate Treatment Methods through Laboratory Scale Biochemical


Gnanakaran, M.a,Basnayake, B. F. A.b*,Ariyawansha, R.T.K.c

Department of Agricultural Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka
Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka

Abstract- Leachate generating from Gohagoda dumpsite is concentration. The existing relationship between the
polluting the River Mahaweli. Therefore, it was essential to ages of the landfill and the organic matter
characterize the dumpsite leachate and to investigate low cost composition may provide useful criteria to choose a
methods to treat the leachate through biochemical laboratory suited treatment process [6]. The better leachate
scale experiments. During the study period Gohagoda
treatment strategy is not easy to define due to the
dumpsite produced high strength leachate. Average pH,
high complexity in its composition and
electrical conductivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, biochemical
characterization of waste. Therefore, in the
oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, total solids, total
dissolved solids (TDS), volatile Solids, of leachate were
operations, leachate treatment is both a very difficult
7.10.1, 10.12.1 mS, 61 , 0.380.12 mg/L, 29,2332,471 and expensive process [2].
mg/L, 46,2337,913 mg/L, 26,3331,6 mg/L, 6,0131,011 As reported by Jung et al., 2006, an external carbon
mg/L, 10,0661,426 mg/L, respectively. The addition of food
source was required to denitrify nitrate in a biological
waste as a carbon source to treat leachate was experimented
nutrient removal process treating old landfill
and incorporation of Azolla plant as a decontaminant was
studied. The addition of food wastes did reduce most of the
leachate. Old landfills produce stabilized leachate
treatment parameters. However, after the third day, most of with relatively low COD and low biodegradability
the parameters increased along with the control, but the (BOD5: COD ratio < 0.1) [4]. Leachate management
magnitudes were less in the treatments. Azolla plant showed is one of major challenges in the rehabilitation efforts
higher sensitivity to leachate water. The highest Azolla of the dumpsite.
growth was observed in dilution factor 3.0. Under this growth
conditions Azolla showed the removal efficiency of
Gohagoda dumpsite is the main disposal site of
conductivity, salinity and TDS of 47.09 %, 33.33% and
municipal solid waste (MSW)in the hill capital of Sri
44.41%, respectively. However, dilution factor 2.5 showed Lanka. It is a poorly maintained and ill-designed site
considerably higher conductivity and TDS removal efficiency where all types of municipal solid waste has been
of 49.11 % and 55.19 %, respectively. Therefore, Azolla accumulated into heaps of garbage over the last five
plants can be used as a decontaminant in later part of a decades. The site is bounded by the longest river of
leachate treatment system. the country, Mahaweli to the east, which is the major
Keywords- Azolla, Leachate, Leachate Treatment System fresh water supplier for down-stream communities
for their drinking, agricultural and sanitary
I. INTRODUCTION requirements. At present, about 150 tonnes of MSW
Landfill leachates are defined as those aqueous is disposed daily. The estimated leachate generation
streams generated as a consequence of rainwater from the dump site was 30,810 m3/year. The highest
percolation through wastes, biochemical processes in leachate production of the dumpsite could be 273
the wastes cells and the inherent water content of the m3/day for a rainfall of 400 mm/day [7].
wastes themselves [1]. The landfill leachates contain
There is an on-going project that was developed and
complex compositions, such as high concentration of
commenced by the Eco Tech Lanka Limited with the
ammonia nitrogen, salts, the suspended solids, N, P
collaboration of University of Peradeniya and Kandy
and heavy metals that can be a source of great
concern to the environment [1, 2, 3, 4]. It is Municipal Council (KMC) to rehabilitate the
Gohagoda dumpsite and establish an integrated solid
considered to be high toxic to higher plants, algae,
waste management system. During the rehabilitation,
invertebrates, fish and human beings [5].
an integrated leachate treatment system (ILTS) was
The composition of the landfill leachate varies designed and established and operated properly [7].
greatly depending on the age of the landfill. As But the system collapsed due to the poor
landfill age increased, organic concentration in maintenance, and not establishing leachate collection
leachate decreased and increase of ammonia nitrogen network and improper dumpsite cover system [8].

Proceeding of Jaffna University International Research Conference (JUICE 2016) Track: Biology and Environmental Sciences

Hence, leachate generation and its quality which are slurry (0.0 ml (T1), 1.0 ml (T2), 2.0 ml (T3) and 3.0
currently generate from the Gohagoda dumpsite ml (T4)) was added, mixed well and kept for 6 days.
Kandy leads to create a long term effect in to the pH, conductivity, DO, TDS of each treatment was
public health, water resources, air and bio diversity.
analysed immediately after mixing leachate and
Therefore, this study was conducted to characterize
the dumpsite leachate and to investigate methods to slurry, after one hour, after seven hours and daily for
treat the leachate through biochemical approach in 7 days and observed for the colour changes at one
the laboratory scale experiments. day interval.
II. METHODOLOGY Assessing the possibility of Azolla as
decontaminant in the leachate treatment system-
Determination of the leachate quality of the Experiment 3
dumpsite Experiment 1
Required volume of partially treated leachate by
Leachate samples were collected from the predefined
using laboratory scale leachate treatment bioreactor
sampling points in Gohagoda dumpsite. The physio-
was collected and different dilution series (A: 1.0, B:
chemical parameters of pH, conductivity, salinity,
dissolved oxygen (DO), total dissolved solids (TDS), total
1.5, C: 2.0, D: 2.5 and E: 3.0) were prepared by
solids (TS), volatile solids (VS), total suspended solids mixing with water to make samples in plastic
(TSS), volatile suspended solids (VSS) and chemical containers. Same amount of Azolla plants were
oxygen demand (COD) and biochemical oxygen demand introduced in each container and kept for 6 days.
(BOD) were analysed from the collected samples by using Growth of Azolla plants was observed and samples
standard methods and equipment as given in Table 1. from each container was taken daily and analysed for
Laboratory analysis was done at the Department of the parameters of pH, conductivity and TDS.
Agricultural Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture,
University of Peradeniya. III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Table 1: Analytical chemical and physical properties of leachate Result from experiment 1- Determination of the
leachate quality of the dumpsite
Parameter Method /Instrument
The leachate quality and quantity generated from
pH pH meter
dumpsite are strongly affected by hydrological
conditions and the conditions of the dumpsite[9]. The
Conductivity and
Conductivity meter-thermo orient model 145 A leachate characteristics during this study period and
comparisons with other studies are given in Table 2.
Dissolved oxygen
DO meter
(DO) Table 2: Comparison of leachate characteristics of reported
Total dissolved studies
solids (TDS) pH values of the leachate concentration remained
Total solids (TS) APHA Method 2540-G Average value Average value
Average value
Parameter (Dissanayake et (Priyashantha
Volatile solids (VS) APHA Method 2540-G (This study)
al., 2016) et al., 2015)
Chemical oxygen
COD meter
demand (COD) pH 7.12 0.10 7.2 0.08 7.62 0.45
Biochemical Conductivity
oxygen demand Winkler titration method 10.1 2.05 22.7 2.05 11.23 0.6
Salinity (%o) 6.07 1.03 12.1 0.78 6.32 4.23
Assessing the suitability of adding food waste as TDS(mg/L) 6,013 1,011 12,4371,189 5,592 698
carbon source into the leachate treatment system -
TS(mg/L) 26,333 1,649 29,5371,058 6,239 5,9985
Experiment 2
VS(mg/L) 10,066 1,426 10,942 889 6,299 4129
Required amount of food waste was collected from
university canteen. Slurry was prepared by mixing of BOD(mg/L) 29,233 2,471 15,977 309 3,133 1,675

food waste and water in the ratio of 1:2 and grinded COD(mg/L) 46,233 7,913 - -
well. For 200 ml of leachate, different volume of DO(mg/L) 0.38 0.12 0.310.01 0.470.26

Proceeding of Jaffna University International Research Conference (JUICE 2016) Track: Biology and Environmental Sciences

around 7.10.1, due to the methanogenic conditions dumpsite leachate was 6,0131,011 mg/L. TS and
of dumpsite as given in Table1 [10]. As reported by VS of leachate were 26,3331,649 mg/L and
Priyashantha et al., 2015 and Dissanayake et al., 10,0661,426 mg/L, respectively. It signifies that it
2016, the pH measurements of leachate of the two has high substrate levels for microbes.
studies were 7.620.45 and 7.240.08 respectively.
Quality of leachate far exceeded the wastewater
The earlier study showed much higher variations,
discharge standards of Central Environmental
may be due to the difference in the study period.
Authority, since maximum permissible limit of EC,
BOD, COD, TDS are 2.25 mS, 30 mg/L and 150
DO concentration had decreased when comparisons
mg/L, 2,100 mg/L respectively.
are made between the results. DO was 0.380.12
mg/L which is lower reported values. The influence Result from Experiment 2- Assessing the
of runoff from less degradable wastes is apparent, Suitability of Adding Food Waste as Carbon
although there were increasing anaerobic conditions Source into the Leachate Treatment System
through the dumpsite. BOD, TS and TSS parameters
The landfill age has a significant effect on its
reflect the wastes degradability of dumpsite and
composition especially on organics [20, 21]. As
amount of organic contaminants [11]. Waste
reported by Jung et al., 2006, the carbon content of
degradability and organic contaminant increase in
leachate has dramatically decreased with age while
new wastes than old. The recorded salinity and EC
the ammonia contents have been relatively
values were 7.120.10 mS and 10.12.05 mS lower
maintained. It will affect the enzymatic reaction
than the Dissanayake et al., 2016 values also it is
particularly anaerobic reactions. Through the addition
indicating high content of dissolved salts. According
of food waste can increase the organic content which
to Priyashantha et al., 2015, those were 11.236.94
is easily biodegradable. In addition to that,
and 6.324.23 mS respectively.
mechanical size reduction of the food waste further
facilitates the reaction process by providing
The BOD and COD values recorded for the leachate
homogenized substrate and increase the surface area
were very high. This may be due to the solid waste
of the substrate for enzymatic reaction [13]. pH,
material gets degraded and the waste constituents
salinity, TDS, EC and DO of leachate were 7.27, 4.7
percolate down along with rain water. BOD values
, 4,680 mg/L, 8.6 mS and 0.54 mg/L respectively.
vary according to age of landfills. For new landfills,
pH, salinity and EC of slurry was 6.19, 2.2 and
BOD values were 2,000-30,000 mg/L for mature
2.08 mS respectively. Variations of quality
landfills, BOD value varies from 100-200 mg/L [12].
parameters of leachate and slurry mixture of each
According to this study recorded average BOD and
treatment with time are given in Table 3.
COD value of 29,2332,471 mg/L and 46,2337,913
mg/L respectively. BOD and COD reduced with
In all treatment TDS fluctuated with time and finally
aging of the dumpsite, but the dumpsite is still
reduced. In the 4th treatment TDS and EC value
decreased in a fluctuation manner from 4,680 mg/L
to 3,480 mg/L and 8.6 mS to 6.7 mS respectively.The
TDS represent mainly of inorganic salts and
sample series showed a significant colour change
dissolved organics. Generally, the TDS
from the second day after adding food slurry as
concentrations fluctuated 8,000 mg/L during dry
shown in Fig 2. All of the parameters did reduce with
season and have significant increases beyond 8,000
the addition of food wastes. However, after the third
mg/L during the rainy season [11]. As reported by
day, most of the parameters increased along with the
Priyashantha et al., 2015, the average TDS of
control, but the magnitudes were less in the
Gohagoda dumpsite was 5,592698.2 mg/L.
According to this study, the average TDS of the

Proceeding of Jaffna University International Research Conference (JUICE 2016) Track: Biology and Environmental Sciences

Table 3: Variations of characteristics of leachate and slurry mixture with time

T1 T2 T3 T4
salinity EC TDS salinity EC TDS salinity EC TDS salinity EC TDS
pH pH pH pH
(mS) (mg/L) (mS) (mg/L) (mS) (mg/L) (mS) (mg/L)
0 hours (Initial) 7.27 4.7 8.6 4680 7.37 4.5 8.42 4450 7.37 4.5 8.31 4370 7.37 4.5 8.25 4330
1st day (1hours) 7 4.6 8.35 4500 8.17 3.9 7.28 3830 8.13 7.32 3860 8.08 3.9 7.17 3750
1st day 3.5 3.3
8.28 4 7 3840 8.18 6.46 3350 8.22 6.23 3330 8.24 3.3 6.25 3250
(7 hours)
2 day 8.28 4 7 3840 8.24 3.3 6.46 3350 8.22 3.3 6.23 3330 8.24 3.3 6.25 3250

3rd day 8.69 4.4 8.21 4370 8.42 4.1 7.8 4160 8.5 4.1 7.62 4060 8.42 4.1 7.73 4090

4th day 8.64 5.2 9.48 5180` 7.84 4.9 8.99 4870 7.45 4.7 8.75 4690 7.84 4.9 8.89 4800
5 day 8.68 4.6 8.34 4500 8.23 4.1 7.87 4230 8.26 4.3 7.81 4210 8.23 4.1 7.68 4060
6 day 9.05 5 9.08 4850 8.3 4.4 8.48 4560 8.47 4.1 8.12 4300 8.3 4.4 8.06 4280

7th day 9.22 4.2 7.57 4200 8.77 3.5 7.14 3780 8.83 3.7 6.84 3570 8.77 3.5 6.7 3480

ability, efficient in accumulation of heavy metals and

(a) After one day its capability to remove P and N from the water
medium [14, 15].
T1 T2 T3 T4
During this study Azolla plants showed higher
sensitivity to leachate. It was observed that these
plants turned brown from the centre of the fronds and
eventually dying after 3 - 7 days in the dilution series
(b) After three days of 1.0 and 1.5. Fig.3 shows the variations of the
conductivity with time. In the B, C, D and E
T1 T2 T3 T4
treatments conductivity reduced with the time period.
In the C, D and E treatments TDS reduced with the
time as shown in Fig. 4. In treatment D and E salinity
reduced from 1.1 to 0.8 and 0.9 to 0.6 as
shown in Fig. 5.
Fig.1 Colour changes in sample series (a) after one day (b) after
The highest Azolla growth was observed in dilution
three days
series 3.0 as shown in Fig 6. Under this growth
Result from Experiment 3- Assessing the conditions, Azolla exhibited the removal efficiencies
Possibility of Azolla as Decontaminant in the of 47.09 %, 33.33% and 44.41% of conductivity,
Leachate Treatment salinity and TDS respectively. Experiment D showed
considerably higher conductivity and TDS removal
Aquatic macrophytes improve water quality by efficiency which was recorded as 49.11 % and 55.19
accumulating toxic nutrients and heavy metals and by % respectively. Azolla plants are very sensitive to
regulating oxygen balance. Azolla, which is a genus leachate. High concentration of leachate was toxic for
of Azolla filiculoides Lam., is a cosmopolitan free- the plant growth. In diluting the leachate, the
floating water fern. Furthermore, there is an conditions were more favourable for plant growths
increasing interest to use the Azolla as a and removal of contaminants. Therefore, Azolla
decontaminant plant in low-cost waste water plants can be used as a decontaminant in the later part
treatment systems, because of their fast-growing of the treatment system.

Proceeding of Jaffna University International Research Conference (JUICE 2016) Track: Biology and Environmental Sciences



Conductivity (mS)




0.5 Fig.5:Change of growth of Azollain different dilution series with

0 2 4 6
Time (days) days
One more advantage of the application of Azolla for
Fig.2: Variations of conductivity with time relates to its ability to efficiently inhibit the growth of
micro-algal and cyanobacterial populations, by
producing a thick mat on the surface of the water,
2500 which prevents penetration of oxygen and light. The
existence of micro-algal populations in final water-
2000 effluents is highly unfavourable and in many cases
Concentration (mg/l)

requires additional decontamination stages [16].


1000 Gohagoda dumpsite produces high strength leachate

that flow without treatment when it reaches
500 Mahawali River. This is due to methanogenic
conditions which are prevailing in the dumpsite.
0 Therefore, the research was conducted to find the
0 2 4 6 influence of adding a carbon source to determine the
Time (days)
treatability of leachate. The addition of food waste
Fig.3:Variations of TDS with time as a carbon source did increase the treatability of
landfill leachate, but not appreciably. It may require
2.5 supportive media for adhesive growth of microbes,
2.3 thus further studies should be conducted to determine
2.1 the minimum amount of food waste to be added to
unit volume of leachate while introducing different
Salinity ()

support media.
1.3 It was found that Azolla plants are very sensitive to
1.1 leachate. However, Azolla plants did grow lushly
0.9 when the leachate was diluted. In large scale
applications, treated leachate water can be recycled to
0 2 4 6
dilute the leachate. Even then, such a method can
Time (days) only be used as a decontaminant in later part of a
leachate treatment system.
Fig.4:Variations of salinity with time

Proceeding of Jaffna University International Research Conference (JUICE 2016) Track: Biology and Environmental Sciences

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