Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Civil Engineering


If a landfill is improperly managed or improperly located, contamination of the ground water is possible. Once contaminated, the polluted ground water can travel for great distances with little dispersal or interaction with the soil. Once the ground water is polluted it is very costly, if even possible, to alleviate the problem. Over fifty percent of the people in the United States use ground water as a source for drinking water. With landfills located throughout the U.S. and with over one half of the population drinking ground water, it is not hard to visualize the pollution potential from an improperly operated landfill. More data needs to be collected to properly evaluate the environmental role of landfills. Additional methods must be employed to help monitor the use of these disposal areas. Perhaps, the monitoring of biological organisms in a landfill area can be used as just such a method. The Brookings sanitary landfill in South Dakota is located in an area with a high ground water table. On this site a trench was excavated downstream of the refuse disposal area to intercept and upgrade the quality of the ground water contaminated by refuse leaching. Ground water collected from monitoring wells downstream of the trench has not shown any violations of the maximum contaminant levels established in the National Interim Primary Drinking Water Regulations. Many of these contaminants have concentration levels below that of instrumental detection. If certain biological organisms have the capability of accumulating and magnifying these contaminants, the organisms could be monitored to help evaluate the contamination from the landfill. The objective of the research presented herein is to see if certain biomasses can be used as biological monitors of leachate from the Brookings sanitary landfill. The scope of this investigation is a broad search for elements and compounds bioaccumulated by particular organisms. This research has placed major emphasis on elements and compounds that are toxic or can be used for leachate monitoring.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Water -- Pollution -- South Dakota -- Brookings

Water quality bioassay -- South Dakota -- Brookings

Sanitary landfills -- South Dakota -- Brookings

Black bullhead




Number of Pages



South Dakota State University