Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


Complaint Arrow Questions or Comments:
You are here: Home / Permits, Registrations, and Reporting / Waste Permits / MSW Permits / Municipal Solid Waste Water Balance Cover Guidance

Municipal Solid Waste Water Balance Cover Guidance

Information for owners and operators of municipal solid waste landfills who are considering a water balance or evapotranspiration alternative final cover system.

Subtitle D municipal solid waste landfills are required to install final covers that are no less permeable than the bottom liners. This is typically achieved through the use of compacted low-permeability soils and geomembrane liners. Alternative final covers may also be approved if the alternative cover achieves an equivalent reduction in infiltration and equivalent protection from wind and water erosion as the prescriptive cover. A water balance cover (also known as evapotranspiration or ET cover) is a type of alternative final cover. A water balance cover utilizes temporary storage of precipitation infiltration within the cover soil layer(s) while the mechanisms of evaporation and plant transpiration return the stored water back to the atmosphere.

Guidance Document:


The TCEQ Waste Permits Division developed the water balance cover guidance with input from landfill owners and operators, academia, and the public. A workshop was held in Austin on January 5, 2011, to present an overview of the guidance and offer technical presentations by experts on water balance cover design and monitoring. The presentations are listed below with the presenters' affiliations at the time of the workshop. Please contact us to request a copy of a presentation.

  • Field-Scale Evaluation of Lysimeters Versus Actual Caps: Effect on Percolation
    Milind V. Khire, Ph.D., P.E., Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University
  • The USEPA's Alternative Cover Assessment Program (ACAP): Lessons Learned From the Field
    William H. Albright, Ph.D., Hydrogeologist, Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada
  • Moisture Monitoring of Water Balance Test Plots
    Jorge G. Zornberg, Ph.D., P.E., Associate Professor, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, University of Texas at Austin

For More Information

To request PDF versions of the workshop presentations or for additional information on water balance covers, contact Dwight C. Russell, P.E., at 512-239-5282 or through our main Waste Permits Division line at 512-239-2335.