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Landfill leachate disposal: phytoremediation with the Vetiver System

Greg Jones

Tweed Shire Council, NSW, Australia. Email:


Landfill leachate is a major concern for landfill sites located in close proximity to agricultural land, waterways and the public domain. Stotts Creek Landfill Waste Depot is the main site within the Tweed Shire (NSW far north coast) that accepts waste. The leachate and runoff from the site is directed t and stored in on-site leachate ponds. The leachate is relatively low in heavy metals but high in TSS and inorganic salts. With a mean annual rainfall of 1588mm (Murwillumbah) runoff and leachate from the landfill site is a major concern with regards to storage capacity. An effective and relatively low cost solution was provided through the practice of surface irrigating leachate onto Vetiver grass commonly called the Vetiver System.

The Vetiver System is based on (Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash) and has been used extensively in developing countries for erosion and sediment control and more recently phytoremediation of of wastewater and leachate. At Stotts Creek Landfill Waste Depot leachate is disposed of by surface irrigating onto approximately 3.5 ha of vetiver. Early indications are very encouraging with lush growth and greatly decreased levels of leachate. The planted out area is located over previously capped cells and because of favourable results it is proposed to extend the existing area to approximately 6.0 ha.

Ongoing monitoring of environmental indicators will determine both short and long-term impacts of the chosen and management plan, its associated costs and future opportunities.

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