The Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority has become a role model landfill because of its innovative natural wetland treatment system. The Authority has received numerous awards and national recognition for its economically and environmentally pleasing answer to the problem of leachate refuse.
The process of using wetlands to treat landfill leachate is both environmentally and economically effective. Located on GLRA property is a series of 14 ponds that are used to treat leachate. Leachate is the liquid that oozes out of a landfill, also known as garbage juice. Vegetation around these ponds, cattails and water lilies, thrive on the nutrients in leachate and purify the water as it slowly flows through the pond system.
Aerators have also been placed in a couple of the ponds. These machines mix the water and add air to give the water a higher dissolved oxygen level which keeps the bacteria strong. These bacteria feed on the organics in leachate to naturally decompose the liquid refuse. It takes about a month for the leachate to travel from the first pond to the discharge point at which the water is clean and the quality is high.
Wildlife Habitat Growth
Wetlands also provide an excellent wildlife habitat. GLRA's ponds are home to a wide diversity of animals throughout the year. GLRA also uses a combination of native warm-season grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and other plants to help with the natural decomposition process and to create a productive wildlife habitat. Animals that have made a home on GLRA's treatment ponds include turtles, snakes, egrets, blue heron, ring-necked pheasants, bluebirds, geese, ducks, red winged blackbirds, muskrats, rabbits, red fox, deer, and a variety of other wildlife.