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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 26 No. 5, p. 1385-1392
    Received: May 17, 1996

    * Corresponding author(s): jwn@ees15.lanl.gov
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A Water Balance Study of Four Landfill Cover Designs Varying in Slope for Semiarid Regions

  1. J. W. Nyhan *,
  2. T. G. Schofield and
  3. R. H. Starmer
  1. Los Alamos National Lab., Environmental Science Group, Mail Stop J-495, Los Alamos, NM 87545.



The goal of waste disposal in landfills is to reduce risk to human health by isolating contaminants until they no longer pose a hazard. To achieve this, the performance of a landfill cover design without an engineered barrier (Conventional Design) was compared with designs containing either a hydraulic barrier (USEPA Design) or two capillary barriers (Loam and Clay Loam Capillary Barrier Designs). Water balance parameters were measured at 6-h intervals for these designs in 1.0 by 10.0 m plots with downhill slopes of 5, 10, 15, and 25%. Whereas runoff generally accounted for only 2 to 3% of the precipitation losses on these designs from December 1991 through July 1995, similar values for evaporation ranged from 86 to 91%. Evaporation usually increased with increases in slope in our field plots; the Conventional Design at slopes of 5 and 25% exhibited 139 and 162 cm of evaporation, respectively. Consequently, interflow and seepage usually decreased with increasing slope: interflow decreased from 10.7 to 1.5 cm for the Clay Loam Capillary Barrier Design at slopes of 5 and 25%. Although seepage comprised up to 10% of the precipitation on the Conventional Design, seepage did not occur in either the USEPA design or the capillary designs at the larger slopes.

Research performed for the U.S. Dep. of Energy Environmental Restoration Program by the Los Alamos National Lab. operated by the Univ. of California under contract W-7405-ENG-36.

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