Solid Waste Landfill Design

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Course Overview

After attending this course, you will have a firm grasp of the background and design specifics necessary to compete in this industry, including industry-leading information on the principles and practices of solid waste landfill development, design, construction, and management. Understand practical emerging technologies including polymer-based bentonite composites in geosynthetic clay liners, landfill gas containment and management for emission control and regulatory drivers, design of gas-to-energy projects, management of CCR landfills and impoundments, and characterization and management of industrial residuals.

Who Should Attend?

  • Civil engineers and landfill designers
  • Landfill owners and operators
  • Local, county, and state regulatory agency staff and officials
  • Public works professionals and municipal engineers
  • Geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineers
  • Geological engineers, hydrogeologists, and geoscientists
  • Facility managers with on-site disposal cells
  • Contractors and estimators
  • Geosynthetic manufacturers and product representative
  • Planners

Course Outline

Day 1 – Design from the Bottom Up: Landfill Siting, Grades, Liners, and Liquid Systems 

Introduction and Key Concepts

  • Solid waste composition
  • Leachate and gas generation and composition
  • Evolving contaminants, risks, and opportunities

Financial Management of a Solid Waste System

  • Solid waste economics
  • Evolving revenue streams and value-added processes
  • Planning financial outlays and tipping fee impacts
  • New technologies for metrics tracking, airspace management, and analysis (compaction rates, equipment usage)

Investigating Hydrogeologic Conditions and Groundwater Monitoring

  • Designing an investigation program
  • Exploration methods
  • Monitoring wells and analysis of groundwater data

Geometric Design

  • Base grades
  • Slopes and berming
  • Phasing

Principles of Compacted Clay Liners and Geosynthetic Clay Liners

  • Properties of suitable liner soils
  • Borrow source investigation
  • Compaction conditions and QA/QC
  • Types and styles of GCLs
  • Advances in polymer-amended bentonites

Geosynthetic Design for Containment Systems

  • Polymers 101
  • Geosynthetic types and functions
  • Contaminant transport mechanisms
  • Composite barrier systems and performance calculations

Leak Detection Testing/Surveys

  • Defect characteristics
  • Leak detection, basic physics
  • Equipment, techniques, and calibration
  • Electrical resistivity surveys

Day 2 – Cover Systems, Stormwater and Liquids Management, and Landfill Tour

Final Covers for Waste Containment Facilities

  • Functions and types of cover systems
  • Cover selection criteria
  • Design of cover drainage
  • Alternative covers, design and PET calculations

Landfill Drainage and Runoff Control 

  • Runoff amounts
  • Open channel flow and culverts
  • Sedimentation/detention basins

Elevated Temperature Landfills

  • Chemical and physical indicators
  • Management
  • Odor control

Tour of Dane County Landfill

  • Gas to energy system tour
  • BioCNG system tour
  • Interim cover system and gas management
  • Expansion phasing

Gas-to-Energy System Selection and Design

  • Developing a solid waste biogas project
  • BioCNG selection, design, and operation
  • Financial considerations and clean fuel incentives
  • Pipeline-grade gas conversion

Liquid Management Considerations

  • Effects on solid waste management systems
  • Dewatering system design and operation
  • Economic analysis of dewatering system

Day 3 – Evolving Topics in Landfill Management, Operations, and Risks

Performance-Based Landfill Design

  • 50-year history of evolving and improved performance through new materials, design/construction methods, and CQA
  • Key factors that affect the transport of contaminants through containment systems
  • Calculations and perspectives of contaminant flux
  • Considerations of performance-based design in lieu of specification-based design

Landfill Design Sets and Construction Management

  • Specification and plan sets
  • Bid packages and bid evaluation
  • Construction and field QA/QC

Gas Collection and Managing Air Emissions 

  • Sources of landfill air emissions
  • Managing landfill air emissions
  • Monitoring and controlling landfill gas migration
  • Noxious/nuisance gas control 

Leachate Recirculation and Bioreactor Landfills

  • Conventional versus bioreactor landfills
  • Regulations and practice-based considerations
  • Design of leachate recirculation systems
  • Operational and monitoring considerations
  • Economics

Waste Relocation and Expansions

  • Environmental, regulatory, legal, and economic drivers
  • Health and safety considerations
  • Geotechnical considerations

Perfluoroakyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Containment Systems

  • History and use
  • Naming conversions and physical/chemical properties
  • Environmental sources and sinks
  • Regulation, guidance, and advisories
  • Analytical techniques to detect and quantify PFAS

Management of Leachate, Liquids, and Gases in Landfills (including PFAS)

  • Fate and transport in solid waste management residuals
  • Liquids management and treatment
  • Remediation technologies and treatment
  • Life-cycle and economic assessment


"It was an awesome course! Highly recommend."
—Hailey Fitterer, HDR, Inc.

"Extremely helpful to get a taste of so much!"
—Nigel Baummer, HDR, Inc

"Wasn’t expecting this much pertinent information as a geologist and was pleasantly surprised."
—T.J. Daniel, Bunnell-Lammons Engineering

"Great information, networking, and references. Too often, binders/slide handouts are useless once back in the office, not the case here."
—Jason Hinds, FMG Engineering, Rapid City, SD

"Great technical discussions that gave reasons behind technical requirements and regulations."
—Noah Watt, Waste Management

"(Elevated Temperature Landfills) very, very informative. Big issue with clients, so truly helpful."
—Christian Kessler, WCGRP

"Very good topics presented by very qualified instructors. The course provides current relevant information for regulators, consultants, and landfill operators."
—Brent Luebbe, NE Dept. of Envir. Quality

"I thoroughly enjoyed this course and will recommend it to colleagues in the future."
—Aaron Lowell, Civil and Environmental Consultants

"I really enjoyed the course. Learning everything from the liner to the final cover systems definitely makes me more confident in looking through a plan set."
—Nick Dykstra, Cornerstone Environmental Group LLC

"Great overall course for all aspects of landfill design from permitting to closure."
—Rochelle Staples, Stantec Consulting Ltd.

"I came with a breadth of knowledge gained from 2 years of experience.  This class expanded the breadth and added depth."
—Spenser Harveg, Parkhill, Smith & Cooper


Craig Benson

Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Paula Leier-Engelhardt

Principal, HydroGeo Solutions LLC, Little Suamico, WI

William Likos

William Likos, PhD, is the Gary Wendt Professor and Director of the Geological Engineering Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Likos’ expertise is in the area of geotechnical engineering, with particular emphasis on unsaturated soil mechanics and expansive clay behavior. Dr. Likos has established himself as a national leader in unsaturated soil mechanics by publishing one of the first textbooks dedicated to the subject, publishing extensively in the top refereed journals, and serving in leadership roles on national committees. He is a two-time recipient of the ASCE Norman Medal for his research contributions to unsaturated soil mechanics.

Mark Torresani

Vice President/Engineer, Cornerstone Environmental Group, LLC, Madison, WI

John Welch

Dane County, Madison, WI

Paul Wintheiser

AECOM, Sheboygan, WI

Krishna Reddy

Professor, University Scholar & Distinguised Researcher, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

James Tinjum

Dr. James M. Tinjum, PE, is responsible for outreach, research, and continuing engineering education in the areas of geotechnical, geoenvironmental, and energy geotechnics with an emphasis on transmitting practical research applications directly to the engineering community. Over the past ten years, he has specialized (consulting, expert support, and research) in foundation investigation, monitoring, and research into foundations for wind turbine generators. 

Jeff Blum

C. Lee Daigle

Jerry Eykholt

Mark Huber

Kenneth Quinn

Alyssa Sellwood

Upcoming dates (1)

Mar. 22-24, 2021

Enroll Now

Program Director

James Tinjum