As an alternative to conventional methods for processing organically contaminated wastewater, businesses and small municipalities may use systems modelled on natural ecosystems. Biological wastewater systems or artificial aquatic filtration systems are effective and cost-effective, but their application has only recently been extended to the treatment of landfill leachate.
The systems are essentially natural wetlands housed in energy efficient greenhouses. These “living machines” mimic a natural ecosystem in which biological waste materials are synergistically processed by a web of bacteria, algae, plants, snails and fish. They convert organic wastes into the living tissue of organisms within the treatment system. (The remainder is bound in gases associated with the respiration of the plants and animals within the system).
In the summer of 1997, Essex- Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA) received a certificate of approval from the Ontario Ministry of Environment for an experimental onsite leachate treatment facility at its regional landfill in the Township of Colchester North. A certificate of approval was issued for pilot studies for three years.