State of Practice of Landfill Leachate Management and Treatment in the U.S.

Leachate Picture

Management of leachate generated by municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills poses significant challenges to landfill operators. Leachate characteristics vary dramatically over time because of changing conditions within the landfill. Leachate is frequently discharged to local publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) because of the cost and complexity of on-site treatment. Additionally, some POTWs have stopped accepting leachate due to nutrient loadings, interference with UV disinfection, or capacity challenges. Currently relevant descriptive data is scarce that connect leachate quality and treatment challenges with landfill characteristics, such as: waste age, types of waste accepted and composition, and climate.

The goal of this project is to collect data from landfills across the U.S. that includes leachate quantity and quality, management practices (e.g., on-site and off-site treatment).  For example, some of the data to be collected as part of this effort include:

  • Volume produced (e.g. total gallons, volume per acre)
  • End point for disposal (e.g. POTW, evaporation, surface discharge, deep well injection)
  • Treatment processes used (e.g. aerobic, anaerobic, denitrification, reverse osmosis)
  • Parameter concentrations that impact treatment strategy (e.g. BOD, solids, nitrogen)

A comprehensive list of leachate treatment technologies offered by vendors and the frequency of what types of technologies are used under certain conditions will also be ascertained.

Results from this study will provide insight to the following types of questions:

  • Does geographic location affect leachate volume or treatment strategies?
  • What factors influence whether or not a landfill is allowed to discharge to a POTW?
  • Are commonly used empirical rules of thumb (e.g. leachate generation per acre) accurate for sizing treatment processes?
  • What technology options are available on the market to address specific treatment goals?

Interested in providing data?

If you are interested in completing our survey and providing leachate data, please click the following link:

If you would prefer to fill out an Excel file, please click here to download the spreadsheet and send the completed file to

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please send an e-mail to

If you would like to receive information on this and other Data & Policy reports as they are made available, please click here.

Thank You to Our Project Sponsors