Water-quality conditions at selected landfills in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, 1986-92

Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4067




Water-quality conditions at five municipal landfills in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, were studied during 1986-92. Analytical results of water samples from monitoring wells and streams at and near the landfills were used to evaluate effects of leachate on surface and ground water. Ground-water levels at monitoring wells were used to determine directions of ground-water flow at the landfills. Data from previous studies were used for analysis of temporal trends in selected water-quality properties and chemical constituents. Effects of leachate, such as large biochemical- and chemical-oxygen demands, generally were evident in small streams originating within the landfills, whereas effects of leachate generally were not evident in most of the larger streams. In larger streams, surface-water quality upstream and downstream from most of the landfills was similar. However, the chemical quality of water in Irwin Creek appears to have been affected by the Statesville Road landfill. Concentrations of several constituents indicative of leachate were larger in samples collected from Irwin Creek downstream from the Statesville Road landfill than in samples collected from Irwin Creek upstream from the landfill. The effect of leachate on ground-water quality generally was largest in water from wells adjacent to waste-disposal cells. Concentrations of most constituents considered indicative of leachate generally were smaller with increasing distance from waste-disposal cells. Water samples from offsite wells generally indicated no effect or very small effects of leachate. Action levels designated by the Mecklenburg County Engineering Department and maximum contaminant levels established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were exceeded in some samples from the landfills. Ground-water samples exceeded action levels and maximum contaminant levels more commonly than surface-water samples. Iron and manganese were the constituents that most commonly exceeded action levels in water samples from the landfills. Synthetic organic compounds were detected more commonly and in larger concentrations in ground-water samples than in surface-water samples. Concentrations of synthetic organic compounds detected in water samples from monitoring sites at the landfills generally were much less than maximum contaminant levels. However, concentrations of some chlorinated organic compounds exceeded maximum contaminant levels in samples from several monitoring wells at the Harrisburg Road and York Road landfills. Trend analysis indicated statistically significant temporal changes in concentrations of selected water-quality constituents and properties at some of the monitoring sites. Trends detected for the Holbrooks Road and Statesville Road landfills generally indicated an improvement in water quality and a decrease in effects of leachate at most monitoring sites at these landfills from 1979 to 1992. Water-quality trends detected for monitoring sites at the Harrisburg Road and York Road landfills, the largest landfills in the study, differed in magnitude and direction. Upward trends generally were detected for sites near recently closed waste-disposal cells, whereas downward trends generally were detected for sites near older waste-disposal cells. Temporal trends in water quality generally reflected changes in degradation processes associated with the aging of landfill wastes.

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Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Water-quality conditions at selected landfills in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, 1986-92
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
vi, 112 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
United States
North Carolina
Mecklenburg County