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Why Smart Composting Facility Operators Keep Stormwater and Leachate Separate

Compost facility operators typically deal with an increase in stormwater runoff while managing process water (leachate) during heavy storms.

An image of a compost bunker with a GORE Cover with water on the ground showing clear separation of the stormwater and the leachate in the compost pile

Process water, or leachate, is a liquid that drains from compost piles and contains nutrients and organic matter. While it can be beneficial as a fertilizer for plants, it can also be highly concentrated and potentially harmful if it reaches waterways, and may even contain pathogens that can be harmful to human health if ingested or come into contact with skin. Stormwater, on the other hand, is rainwater that runs off surfaces and can pick up pollutants such as chemicals, oil, and sediment as it flows across surfaces. If it is not properly managed and treated, it can lead to water pollution, flooding, and erosion. Co-mingled leachate with stormwater requires more complex water management systems for the capture of co-mingled compost pad leachate/surface water which may include more costly systems for capture, and treatment and has potential as a source of odors. Smart composting facility operators know how important it is to have a clear separation of stormwater and compost pile leachate to ensure that each type of water is managed properly and treated appropriately. This effort will help to protect the environment, save money on water treatment, and promote sustainable practices for managing organic waste. Sustainable Generation's expert operator experience was used to design the SG BUNKER® System with GORE® Cover to provide facilities with better process control and offer clear separation of stormwater and leachate.


Multiple images showing an SG Bunker System with text callouts showing how the system separates stormwater and manages leachate collection and management

The GORE® Cover is a waterproof, breathable membrane that seals out stormwater while the unique SG BUNKER® design allows for the capture of process water. This design collects and reuses the leachate (if necessary), back in the composting process which has a two-fold effect of separating the leachate while reducing demand on outside sources for water (of particular importance in drought-prone regions). Keeping stormwater and leachate separate also reduces the demand for energy-intensive, costly, and complex stormwater management systems. Other aerated static pile (ASP) systems that use negative air, reversing air, or positive air with a biolayer cap, are unable to maintain clear separation of stormwater from leachate. To get the same water management performance as the SG/GORE® system, the other ASP technologies would require a building or roof covering them. This solution requires significantly higher initial (and ongoing maintenance) capital costs than the SG BUNKER® System with GORE® Cover. Water quality management was a critical success factor in the selection of the SG BUNKER® System with GORE® Cover for a recent project constructed and operating in Northern California (shown below). With abundant rainfall and nearby natural water features, this facility required a system that offered best-in-class process management and environmental protections.


New SG BUNKER System with a stormwater retention pond behind it.

The SG Advanced Composting Technology with GORE® Cover provides the highest level of process control, VOC and odor management, moisture control, and visibility into the efficiency of the composting system, including temperature and oxygen management. Reduce the influence of stormwater in active composting piles with the SG BUNKER® System. Sustainable Generation and the GORE® Cover combine to provide proven, reproducible, repeatable results.


FAQ's


  1. How does the design of the SG BUNKER® System with GORE® Cover facilitate the separation of stormwater from compost pile leachate, and what advantages does this offer in terms of water management compared to traditional methods like aerated static pile (ASP) systems? The SG BUNKER® System with GORE® Cover employs a combination of design features to ensure the clear separation of stormwater from compost pile leachate. The GORE® Cover serves as a waterproof and breathable membrane, effectively sealing out stormwater while allowing the capture and management of leachate. This design not only prevents co-mingling of the two types of water but also facilitates the reuse of leachate back into the composting process, thereby reducing the reliance on external water sources. In comparison to traditional methods, such as aerated static pile (ASP) systems, the SG BUNKER® System offers superior water management performance without requiring additional infrastructure like buildings or roofs, which can significantly increase initial and ongoing maintenance costs.

  2. How does the SG Advanced Composting Technology with GORE® Cover address water quality management concerns in composting operations, particularly in regions with stringent environmental regulations or drought-prone conditions? Can you provide examples or case studies beyond the Northern California project to demonstrate the system's adaptability and reliability in ensuring water quality management? The SG Advanced Composting Technology with GORE® Cover addresses water quality management concerns comprehensively, particularly in regions with stringent environmental regulations or drought-prone conditions. By providing the highest level of process control, VOC and odor management, moisture control, and real-time monitoring capabilities, the system ensures compliance with regulatory standards and promotes environmentally responsible composting practices. While the Northern California project serves as a testament to the system's effectiveness, Sustainable Generation also conducts ongoing research and development to validate its performance across diverse environmental contexts. Case studies and real-world examples beyond the Northern California project would further illustrate the system's adaptability and reliability in ensuring water quality management in composting operations.


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