Douglas J. Daley, P.E.

















Department of Environmental Resources Engineering


Associate Professor
SUNY Center for Brownfield Studies
Office: 420 Baker Lab
Mail: 402 Baker Lab
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry,
1 Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY 13210
(315) 470-4760 (Office)
(315) 470-6633 (Dept)
(315) 470-6958 (Fax)



ET Landfill Cover System Analysis and Design

Project Location: Camillus, NY

Sponsor: Honeywell, Inc.

The primary objectives of the pilot study are to: 

  • Evaluate water uptake by poplar and willow shrubs and estimate the effect of the evapotranspiration on the production of leachate
  • Determine to what extent, if any, the shrubs could be used as a capping mechanism either alone or as part of an alternate to a 6 NYCRR Part 360 cap
  • Determine the value of using the trees as an alternate “green” fuel

Potential benefits of a willow-based ET cover system include:

  • Waste stabilization, waste minimization and leachate reduction
  • Job creation
  • Renewable energy resource from woody biomass
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement
  • Ecological restoration - inland salt marsh
  • Beneficial re-use of urban organic residuals (yard waste and wastewater biosolids)  

Significant Milestones:  

2003: Project was proposed to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).


2004: First willow plantings on Settling Basin 13 in previously amended wastes and control plots.


2005: Field trial of different organic amendment mixtures (Field 3) commenced.


2007: First harvest on Field 1


2008: Commenced 10-acre demonstration on Settling Basin 14.


2009: Planning commenced for 25-acre expansion in 2010.


Representative Products:

Poster. 6th International Phytotechnologies Conference, St Louis, MO December 2009


Dan Brown, Douglas Daley and Timothy Volk. 2007. Calibration of the Simultaneous Heat and Water (SHAW) Model using Sap Flow Measurements of a Salix-based Evapotranspiration Landfill Cover System. 2007. Abstract.


Industrial Waste Contamination: Past, Present and Future. Sandra Lislovs. Summer 2005. Clearwaters. Published by New York Water Environment Federation. (an overview of the Solvay Wastebeds Context, with reference to the willow biomass demonstration project.)


Douglas Daley. 2005. Initial Success (ppt file) in Design and Modeling of a Landfill Cover using Salix on the Solvay Wastebeds in Syracuse, NY (USEPA Phytotechnology Conference April 2005). See PDF file at


Timothy A. Volk1, Jaconette Mirck1, Jason J. Purdy2, Kimberly D. Cameron2, Lawrence B. Smart2, Douglas Daley3, and Lawrence P. Abrahamson1,2 Screening and selection of willow clones for growth on Solvay process waste.   1Forest and Natural Resources Management, 2Environmental and Forest Biology, 3Environmental Resources Engineering, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY 13210 USA. Environmental Applications of Poplar and Willow Working Party, 18-20 May 2006, Northern Ireland


Douglas Daley. 2005. Design and Modeling of a Landfill Cover using Salix for Hydrologic Control, Biomass Production and Land Reclamation: Solvay Wastebeds, Syracuse, NY (Powerpoint presentation to American Society of Agricultural Engineers International Conference, July 2005)


Douglas Daley. 2004. Using Willow for Hydrologic Control, Biomass Production and Land Reclamation (Powerpoint presentation to Central New York Air & Waste Management Association Meeting. Syracuse, NY. November 2004


T. A. Volk, J. Mirck, M. Farber, L. P. Abrahamson, D. Daley. 2004. Initial success establishing willow on solvay wastebeds in Syracuse, NY Biomass and Bioenergy Production for Economic and Environmental Benefits. conference hosted by Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group and IEA Bioenergy (Task 30), Short Rotation Crops for Bioenergy Systems and IUFRO Working Unit 1.09.01, Integrated research in temperate short-rotation energy plantations. 7 to 10 November 2004. Charleston, South Carolina, USA PDF - See page 66 for Summary.



Doug Daley, Tim Volk, Larry Abrahamson


Graduate Students:

  • Jaconette Mirck
  • Andy Johnson
  • Dan Brown
  • Sowmya Venkatasubramanian
  • Caroline Romano
  • Deborah Ofori

Affilated Researchers:

  • Don Leopold (Professor, EFB)
  • Jaqui Frair (Asst Professor, EFB)
  • Tony Ellanardo (Ph.D. candidate, EFB)
  • Andrew Frazell (B.S. candidate, ERE)
  • Mackenzie Osypian (B.S. candidate, ERE)
  • Jen Baschmann (B.S. candidate, ERE)

Back to Research home



June 2016: Following an extended monitoring and maintenance period (2008-2015), SUNY ESF has worked with OBG consultants to assess and synthesize over 5 years of data for a report to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The report will be an integral component of the next project phase, which will involve developing the design criteria for the closure of the settling basins.

May 2015: The original 10-acre Demonstration Plots have been expanded over the past 4 years, and willow plantations now cover over 120 acres of Settling Basin 14. A second harvest is planned for the winter of 2015-16.

May 2010: Deborah's study concluded that the two vegetated plots had the least soil moisture and soil temperature throughout the study period compare to the unvegetated control plots. The SHAW model estimated ET rates that were slightly greater in the vegetated than in the control plots, which resulted in lower percolation rates in the vegetated plots. Differences in soil moisture and temperature between the two vegetated plots indicate that the different morphological structure of the willow canopies can be considered in site design to reduce soil moisture, reduce percolation and regulate soil temperature.

April 2010: Andrew, Mackenzie and Jen (all undergrad research assistants) present a poster at the College's Spotlight on Research detailing their analysis of percolation through the 0.5m of amended Solvay waste.

August 2009: Deborah Ofori starts collecting canopy and soil temperature to compare with predictions by the SHAW model on SB 14. Canopy in this second growing season is closing, and appears relatively healthy.

July - December 2008: Research assistant Andrew Frazell assists with evacuating pan lysimeters to determine percolation rates through the shallow unsaturated wastes. Weeds are prolific.

May-June 2008: O'Brien & Gere constructed a 10-acre demonstration project at SB14. The organic amendment was mixed with Solvay waste using full-scale equipment to an 18-inch mix depth. The phot shows the organic amendment (brown) spread prior to mixing with the waste (white-gray).

January 2008: Field 1 was harvested and willow stockpiled for use in biomass refinery research. Note the stools in the foreground, which will sprout rapidly as soil warms up in March and April.

October 2006: By now, the differences amongst treatments is noticeable. Field 1 has achieved canopy closure. Field 2 (willow planted in Solvay waste without organic amendments) is barely surviving. Field 3 is starting to show differences amongst treatments.

July 2006: Graduate students Dan Brown and Danielle Benati measure hydraulic conducitivity in Field 3. Two willow varieties were planted using 10-inch cuttings two to three months earlier. The vigorous growth is similar to agrocultural fields and has an immediate effect on the site's water budget.

June 2005: Yard waste mulch and biosolids from two local wastewater treatment plants are applied to reseach plots to determine effect of different combincations on survival and growth.

April 2005: First year growth in Field 1 underscores the importance of organic amendments to improve growing conditions for willows planted directly in contact with the Solvay waste.

June 2004: Larry Abrahamson discovers that Solvay waste is characteristically white and can be readily trenched with vertical walls. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent annually by Honeywell to investigate and design remedial actions across the many wastebeds. This is a scene from the parking lots at the State Fairgrounds.

Graduate student Andy Johnson also discovers that ponds are created in the center of the settling basins due to runoff events, indicating the relatively low infiltration capacity of the waste. This scene is from SB14 in June 2004; a flock of geese has just flown from the pond.

April 2004: Senior forest engineering students visit Field 1 to finalize their proposed design for an ET landfill cover.

April 2003: We made a first site visit to the settling basins in Camillus, NY. There are some pioneer poplar and willow, but vegetation is sparse and shallow-rooted due to lack of nutrients in solvay waste and high pH (8.5 and higher). High moisture retention results in frozen soils in winter which impacts rooting.