The disposal of more than 1,400 million pounds of solid wastes in the United States each day is a major problem. This disposal in turn often leads to serious health, esthetic, and environmental problems. Among these is the pollution of vital ground-water resources.
Of the six principal methods of solid-waste disposal in general use today, four methods--open dumps, sanitary landfill, incineration, and onsite disposal--carry an inherent potential for pollution of water resources. Seepage of rainwater through the wastes leaches undesirable constituents which reach the ground water in the area. This leachate is generally both biologically and chemically contaminated. The extent of the pollution from this leachate is largely dependent upon the geologic environment in which the solid wastes are deposited. Pollution potential is highest in permeable areas with a shallow water table where the wastes are in direct contact with the ground water. In a relatively impermeable area, the pollution is generally confined locally to the vicinity of the waste-disposal site.
Site selection for disposal of solid wastes must be based on adequate water-resources information if pollutional potential is to be minimized. This will require regional as well as localized data on the water resources of the area. Only through such an approach can adequate protection be afforded to the environment in general and the water resources in particular.