Impact Of Sanitary Landfills Towards Sustainable Development In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Impact Of Sanitary Landfills Towards Sustainable Development In Nigeria


Landfills have for long been generally thought to have diminutionary effect on residential property values. Various researches sparked off by this contention have proved contradictory in some instances. This study attempts to examine the impact of the four State established landfills on residential property values in Lagos State, each of varing sizes and having various degrees of contamination. A total of 229, 2 341 and 315 structured questionaires were administerd to Estate Surveyors and Valuers, residents within 1.2km distance from four landfills and Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) workers respectively and on the avearge, 78% were retrieved. Evaluation using linear regression function of data drawn from administered questionaires showed a slight evident of statistical significance indicating that all residential property values increased with distances away from landfill sites at an average of 6% for the four landfills

Chapter One


1.1 Background of Study

In terms of Sustainability and environment, the natural elements play important roles for ecological preservation. Water is the most abundant environmental resource on earth but its accessibility is based on quality and quantity, as well as space and time. It may be available in various forms and quantity but its use for various purposes is the subject of quality. About 70% of the human body and about 60-70% of plant cells is made up of water (Smith and Edger, 2006). It is one of the determinants of human settlement, existence and activities on the earth. Its quantity is fixed but dynamic in formation and storage. Of all the environmental concerns that developing countries face, the lack of adequate, good quality water remains the most serious (Markandya, 2004).

Once contaminated, groundwater may forever remain polluted without remedy or treatment. Water is one of the determinants of human earth system. Diseases may spring up through water pollution, especially groundwater contamination, and rapidly spread beyond human expectation because of its flow mechanism (Afolayan et al., 2012). One of the major factors that make the earth habitable for humans is the presence of water. Forming the major component of plant and animal cells, it is the basis of life and therefore the development of water resources is an important component in the integrated development of any area.

Water is critical to our daily lives and is an extraordinary compound in nature. It covers 71% of Earth (USGS, 2014). Water is the most important resource of a country, and of the entire society, since no life is possible without water. It has this unique position among other natural resources, because a country can survive in the absence of any other resource, except water (Garg, 2009). According to the National Water Policy (2002), in the planning and operation of systems, water allocation priorities should be broadly as follows: drinking, irrigation, hydropower, ecology, agro-industries and non-agricultural industries, navigation and other uses.

About 68.7% of the fresh water is tied up in polar ice caps and glaciers, and a further 30.1% is underground as groundwater, most of which is not available for use (Gleick, 1996). Rivers and lakes constitute a mere 0.32%, atmospheric moisture 0.03% and soil moisture 0.05%.The major sources of water are surface water (oceans, rivers, streams, seas and brooks), groundwater, snow and ice, and lakes. However their exploration and exploitation varies from place to place based on their state of existence. Groundwater plays a vital role for urban and agricultural water supply. It accounts for about 0.5% of total hydrosphere, approximately 6.73 x10km3 in volume (Ayoade, 2003). It constitutes a major portion of the earth’s water circulatory system known as hydrological cycle and occurs in permeable geologic formation known as aquifers i.e. formations having structure that can store and transmit water at rates fast enough to supply reasonable amounts to wells (Afolayan et al., 2012).

Wastes of different types, mostly solid wastes are the major input of dumpsites/landfills. With respect to the hydrological analysis of groundwater, it flows from areas of higher topography towards areas of lower topography, thereby bringing about the examination of the degradable material which form leachate and contaminate the groundwater of the study area.

Landfill practice is the disposal of solid wastes by infilling depressions on land. The depressions into which solid wastes are often dumped include valleys (abandoned) sites of quarries, excavations, or sometimes a selected portion within the residential and commercial areas in many urban settlements where the capacity to collect, process, dispose of, or re-use solid waste in a cost-efficient, safe manner is often limited. The practice of landfill system as a method of waste disposal in many developing countries is usually far from standard recommendations (Mull, 2005; Adewole, 2009; Eludoyin & Oyeku, 2010). A standardized landfill system involves carefully selected location, and is usually constructed and maintained by means of engineering techniques, ensuring minimized pollution of air, water and soil and risks to man and animals. It involves placing waste in lined pit or a mound (Sanitary landfills) with appropriate means of leachate and landfill gas control (Alloway & Ayres 1997; Eludoyin & Oyeku 2010).

Land filling of municipal solid waste is a common waste management practice and one of the cheapest methods for organized waste management in many parts of the world (El-Fadel et al., 1997; Jhamanani et al., 2009; Longe & Balogun, 2010). Increasing urbanization results in an increased generation of waste materials and landfills become the most convenient way of disposal. Most of these landfills are mere ‘holes in the ground” do not qualify as sanitary means of solid waste disposal. Most of the areas around the Solous dumpsites depend either on dug-up wells or bore-holes which may likely be affected by the generated leachate through waste decomposition from the dumpsites despite the provision of pipe-borne water by government.

According to Papadopoulou et al. 2007, as the natural environment can no longer digest the produced wastes, the development of solid waste management has contributed to their automated collection, treatment and disposal. One of the most common waste disposal methods is landfilling, a controlled method of disposing solid wastes on land with the dual purpose of eliminating public health and environmental hazards and minimizing nuisances without contaminating surface or subsurface water resource.

There are three major landfills and two temporary landfill sites serving the area of Lagos State. The Olushosun landfill site is the largest, situated in the Northern part of Lagos within Ikeja Local Government Area, and receives approximately 40% of total waste deposits from Lagos (LAWMA, 2011).

The Solous landfills, I, II and III, may be regarded as the second most functional landfill in Lagos State after the Olusosun landfill in Ketu. This is because of its location within the largest Local Government Area of the State. For the teeming population of the surrounding community, groundwater is the major source of water supply. Despite the provision of pipe-borne public water by Lagos State Water Cooperation mini water works, some households still prefer their personal wells and bore holes. Owing to this fact, the possibility of the generated leachate affecting the hydrology of the area deserves proper investigation through experimental analysis.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Landfills have served many years as ultimate disposal site for all types of waste; municipal solid waste, industrial sewage and hazardous waste. Physical, chemical and biological processes interact simultaneously to bring about the overall decomposition of the wastes. One of the by-products of this mechanism is chemically laden leachate. Leachate is produced by the action of rainwater aiding bacteria in the process of decomposition. Leachate is typically composed of dissolved organic matter, inorganic macro components (such as chlorides, iron, aluminum, zinc and ammonia), heavy metals and xenobiotic organic compounds such as halogenated organics. Other chemicals including pesticides, solvents and heavy metals may also be present. Leachates are a potential hazardous waste from landfill sites. If not dealt with properly they can cause pollution to groundwater, health problems and affect the environment. It is therefore important that leachates are treated and contained to prevent these occurrences (Kostova, 2006).

The city of Lagos with its teeming population has less than 50 Water Supply Boards to cater to it in terms of water treatment and distribution. It therefore relies rely mostly on bore holes and hand dug wells for its water needs. The major environmental problem experienced around the Solous landfill areas is the contamination of groundwater via discharged leachate. Areas near landfills have great possibility of groundwater contamination because of the potential pollution source of leachate originating from the nearby site. Such contamination of groundwater resource poses a substantial risk to local resource users and to the natural environment. The impact of landfill leachate on the surface and groundwater has given rise to a number of studies in recent years (Mor et al., 2006). It is therefore important to study the water quality in areas especially those around these landfill sites to examine its impact on groundwater quality.

1.3 Research Objectives

The aim of the research is to examine the impact of sanitary landfills towards sustainable development in Nigeria. The research also considers the effect of the location of dumpsites on the underground water quality in Lagos State. To this effect, the study will particularly:

  1. Examine the effect of distance from dumpsite on the physical, chemical and heavy metal properties of sampled groundwater.
  2. Determine the effect of soil physical properties on the ground water quality in the study area.
  3. Examine if there is variation in water quality among sampled groundwater sources
  4. Compare the difference in the quality of sampled water with WHO and NSDWQ water quality standards.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the effect of distance from dumpsite on the physical, chemical and heavy metal properties of sampled groundwater?
  2. What is the effect of soil physical properties on the ground water quality in the study area?
  3. Is there any variation in water quality among sampled groundwater sources?
  4. What is the impact of sanitary landfill towards sustainable development in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of the Study

Seasonality is the first criteria of the period of this research work because it plays prominent role in waste degradation and groundwater migration. Similar studies have also been carried out in the past during the rainy season and this study monitors the sites to compare results over time. This serves as the basis of the fieldwork being carried out in August, 2011 unlike either during the dry season when there is no water ingression or during the excess rainfall which can easily dilute and reduce parameter concentration.

The study will also recommend measures with which local authorities can continue to reduce pollutant levels over time. The selected variables were based on their long life span and being the common pollutants within the landfill, as well as their degree of concentration in relation to groundwater migration. They have been regarded as being responsible for various health problems, being non-biodegradable, as well as their possibility of accumulation in the food web. Despite the provision of pipe borne water by state government in areas of the landfill, people still rely more on their dug-up wells which are easily contaminated through seepage. Low literacy levels may have influenced their choice of preference for dug-up wells. Some physical parameters like taste, colour and odour are the main indicators of water pollution to the people without taking into consideration the other physical, chemical and biological variables of water.

This will add to the body of existing literature on this research topic as well as be a reference point for other researchers who want to write on a related field or area in the nearest future.

1.6 Limitation of the Study

Assessing the variability in leachate composition and leachate migration from old landfills needs an integrated approach. Historical information (including old maps, aerial photographs, interviews, etc.) creates a valuable basis for understanding the variability. Also, information on the hydrology of the dumpsite and the adjacent part of the polluted aquifer is needed. Detailed information of the site like depth could not be extracted from the appropriate authority due to the fact that the sites were not originally planned and designed for the purpose of waste management.

As a result of proximity of the examined dumpsites, there were problems of spatial boundary location. The Solous dumpsites are interconnected and to establish surface hydrological boundary in between them posed a very serious task. However, surface delineation of landfill areas may not coincide with the underground water basin. Most of the inhabitants refused to cooperate due to their suspicion that the researcher was an agent to State Government set out to expose their non-compliance with the instructions of the Lagos State Water Corporation.

The lack of standard laboratories as well as the high cost of testing each sample affected the number of samples tested. A long distance was travelled to avail the services of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency to test the water samples and soil samples were tested out of state resulting in additional transport costs. Period of observation, that is rainy season, might also checkmate the results from the parameters.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Sustainable Development:

Is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system. Sustainable development can be classified as development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations


Also known as traditional landfills are excavated pieces of land or pits where waste materials are stored.


An old and easiest method of waste disposal that involves burying the waste in specially constructed sites.

Sanitary Landfill:

A designed and engineered method of disposing of solid wastes to reduce groundwater pollution.

Chapter Five

Summary, Recommendation and Conclusion

5.1 Summary of Findings

In Africa, the most congested city is Lagos which has been ranked as the most urbanized and industrialized city in Nigeria. Waste generation has been attributed to the level and degree of national development. However, with the stated urban characteristics, old and rudimentary system of waste management is still the dominant method throughout the Nigerian States without future implication on groundwater quality. The Solous landfills in Igando, Alimisho Local Government Area has three major landfills without any plan for the inhabitants with respect to groundwater consumption to avoid water borne diseases on human health. Ideally, there is need for better way of waste disposal without interference with any environmental resources. Landfilling has been regarded as the easiest way of disposing waste and refuse within the city of Lagos over years. Among the three major existing landfills (Olusosun, Abule-egba and Solous) in Lagos State, Solous is the second largest after Olusosun.

This research examined the quality of groundwater around the three dumpsites in Solous in order to compare the concentration of the examined variable with the WHO (2004) and NSDWQ (2007) standard limits.

Seventeen (17) parameters were examined in relation to eighteen water samples collected. It was discovered that nitrate (N0-3), electrical conductivity (EC), total alkalinity (TA), iron (Fe), lead (Pb) and copper (Cu) were above the WHO standard limit in some samples. Concentration of heavy metals and chemical parameters such as iron, lead and copper were more available in groundwater around Solous 2 and 3 while, nitrate was the only chemical parameter with high concentration around Solous 1. Results also indicated that groundwater within the range of Solous 1 landfill had less concentration of heavy metals than the other landfills.

The results also showed no signification variation in water quality with increasing distance from the dumpsite. Findings also indicated that the ground water around Solous 1 was of better quality for domestic use than groundwater around Solous 2 and 3 due to temporal reduction of contaminant concentration over time.

Results were compared with studies carried out by previous researchers to observe temporal variation of water quality parameters. The analysis indicated a significant depletion of heavy metals over time.

It is obvious that time, role of waste management strategy, soil stratigraphy, groundwater flow direction, landfill life span, distance from the leachate, Piezometric level, season, underlying geology, all play vital roles in groundwater quality around dumpsites in relation to waste decomposition, leachate formation and migration as well as groundwater contamination.

5.2 Recommendations

Toward the control of groundwater vulnerability to pollution through landfills for sustainable development, there is need for adequate and proper planning, design and construction, and strategic management disposal of waste.

Ordinary landfills or dumpsites need to be outlawed and provision of modern sanitary landfills should be provided to ameliorate and alleviate the incessant groundwater contamination. Government is to locate new landfills away from the general population to avoid contamination of their water supply. Lagos State as the most populous city in Africa should seek for national and international assistance in the area of modern technology for the implementation of better sustainable environmental sanitation practice.

In the case of closed landfills, the surface must be capped with materials that inhibit high rate of infiltration, specifically clay or peat material, because high rate of infiltration aggravates waste decomposition and enhance leachate migration. Construction of barriers such as trenches, cut-off-walls or defence well may be appropriate especially where leachate has threatened or polluted the aquifer.

Detailed analysis of hydrogeology and groundwater flow direction in the area is highly required to safeguard the exploration and exploitation of groundwater. Government agencies such as Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) should engage in more research to monitor contaminant levels and plan mitigation strategies.

Modern waste management and treatment policy should be put in place for the landfill and waste disposal must be controlled by pre-treatment before disposal or after disposal. In an ideal sanitary landfill, there is compartmentalization of treatment plants for waste and leachate for recycling and other uses. There is also a need for public awareness about the specific purpose of which the groundwater in the study area can be used for and incase of domestic use, necessary purification methods should be applied for health safety.

To forestall the continuous contamination of groundwater through the disposal of domestics and industrial waste, the government would need to consider other sanitary methods of waste disposal such as recycling. To reduce the incidence of water borne diseases, appropriate water resource management strategies need to be applied. Potable water from government/public water works should always circulate to the affected and likely to be affected areas as and when due.

5.3 Conclusion

Groundwater is a universally valuable renewable resource for human life and sustainable economic development. Growth and development on the earth surface has rendered surface water of certain areas of the world useless despite its availability in large quantity. The study observes indiscernible migration of decomposed waste into leachate from the base of the landfill to be the point source of groundwater pollution. This obviously limits groundwater functions for various purposes (such as domestic, industrial and agriculture). Implication of the groundwater pollution could also be attributed to different health related problems.

Although both surface and groundwater may be available in large quantity in Igando owing to the geographical location but purpose and accessibility to it is limited in terms of quality. Concentrations of some variables were not detected. This indicates the impact of time in parameter reduction. Concentration of the examined parameters were analysed, discussed and explained with relevant statistical tools. Hydrogen ion (pH) has the highest degree of correlation with other examined variables, that is, concentration of hydrogen ion in water directly influenced some parameters. Of more important is their reduction in relation to time.

However, not all contaminant parameters obeyed the distance decay principle with the exception of Nitrate with an average distance of 167 metres reduced with distance. Also, the present results are drastically low compared to the findings of Balogun and Longe (2008); Afolayan (2011). Of the soil samples taken, the composition of sand ranked the highest, with clay content higher than silt showing that the study location is predominantly sandy.

Moreover, pH is the only parameter with the highest rate of interaction through analysed correlation coefficient because it synergistically influenced both chemical, and heavy toxic metals especially anions and cations than any other water quality variable. Also those well within the range of 200m to the landfills center were not seriously affected.

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