Journal of Geographic Information System, 2011, 3, 267-278
doi:10.4236/jgis.2011.34023 Published Online October 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
Using GIS-Based Weighted Linear Combination Analysis
and Remote Sensing Techniques to Select Optimum Solid
Waste Disposal Sites within Mafraq City, Jordan
Ahmad Al-Hanbali*, Bayan Alsaaideh, Akihiko Kondoh
Center for Environmen tal Remote Sensing (CEReS), Chiba University, Chiba, Japan
E-mail: *
Received May 6, 2011; revised June 29, 2011; ac cepted July 12, 2011
Landfill siting was determined within Mafraq City, Jordan, through the integration of geographic information
system (GIS), weighted linear combination (WLC) analysis, and remote sensing techniques. Several pa-
rameters were collected from various sources in vector and raster GIS formats, and then, used within the
GIS-based WLC analysis to select optimum solid waste disposal sites. Namely, urban areas, agricultural
lands, access roads, surface aquifers, groundwater table, fault system, water wells, streams, and land slope
were considered in this research. Also, the trend of urban expansion within the study area was monitored us-
ing the Landsat data of 1989, 1999, and 2009 to support the selection process of disposal sites. It is found
that about 84% of the study area was within “most suitable” to “moderately suitable” classes for landfill sites,
while the rest of the study area was within “poorly suitable” and “unsuitable” classes. Based on the analysis
of Landsat satellite data the urban area was expanded of more than 240% during the last three decades,
mainly toward south, and southwest, except the villages near the existing disposal site, where the trend was
toward east and northeast. Finally, three sites were suggested as alternatives to the existing disposal site tak-
ing into the consideration the environmental, biophysical, and economical variables applied in the GIS-based
WLC analysis.
Keywords: Solid Waste, Weighted Linear Combination, GIS, Remote Sensing, Jordan
1. Introduction
Solid waste disposal site is the final stage in the solid waste
management process. Several studies have been conducted
on different scales to find the optimum locations for solid
waste disposal sites [1-3]. Whether the solid waste is a mu-
nicipal or hazardous waste, the selection of its ultimate site
is complex [4,5]. It must combine social, environmental,
technical, and economical parameters [6,7]. Also, the loca-
tion must comply with the requirements of governmental
regulations in order to be acceptable. Therefore, the selec-
tion of new landfill sites has become one of the most com-
plicated tasks faced by communities involved in municipal
solid waste (MSW) management [8].
The selection of solid waste disposal sites requires many
factors that should be integrated into one system to be ana-
lyzed properly. Geographic information system (GIS) has
the capability to handle and simulate the necessary data
gathered from various sources. GIS combines spatial data
(maps, aerial photographs, and satellite images) with quan-
titative, qualitative, and descriptive information databases,
which can support a wide range of spatial queries. All of
these factors have made GIS an essential tool for location
studies, especially for landfill siting [9,10].
A multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) method can serve to
inventorize, classify, analyze and conveniently arrange the
available information concerning choice-possibilities in
regional planning [11]. It is mainly involved with how to
combine the information from several criteria to form a
single index of evaluation. It is used to deal with difficul-
ties that decision makers encounter in handling large
amounts of complex information [1]. Weighted linear
combination (WLC) is one of the widely used MCE meth-
ods for land suitability analysis. It involves standardization
of the suitability maps, assigning the weights of relative
importance to the suitability’s maps, and then combining
the weights and standardized suitability maps to obtain an
overall suitability score [12]. WLC is a concept which
combines maps by applying a standardized score to each
class of a certain parameter and a factor weight to the pa-
rameters themselves [13]. This method provides better site
selection because of its flexibility in selecting the optimum
The integration of GIS and MCE has been shown in
studies related to site determination in many various sub-
jects including ecological sciences, urban-regional plan-
ning, waste management, hydrology and water resource,
agriculture, forestry, natural hazards, recreation/tourism,
housing/real estate, geological sciences, manufacturing and
cartography [14]. Some examples of application of MCE
with GIS for landfill siting include: [5,15,16].
The process of urbanization is a universal phenomenon
taking place the world over, where humans dwell [17], and
it is a major trend in recent years [18]. Thus, for a sustain-
able management of solid wastes, it is necessary to monitor
the direction of urban expansion in order to avoid locating
the solid waste disposal sites in an area designated for fu-
ture urban planning. Remote sensing data can provide the
necessary information related to urban expansion which
has been widely used in many research studies [19,20].
There are two main objectives of this study; namely to
select optimum locations for MSW disposal sites using
GIS-based MCE technique, and to monitor the direction of
urban expansion of Mafraq city to support the selection
process. To monitor the urban expansion of Mafraq City, a
Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) 1989, a Landsat Enhanced
Thematic Mapper (ETM+) 1999, and a Landsat TM 2009
data were used.
2. Solid Wastes in Jordan
Jordan has been facing a unique situation in the region as
a result of distinct and sudden population increases due
to three waves of immigration. The first wave occurred
in 1948 from Palestine, the second in 1976 after the
so-called “Six Day War”, and the last in 1991 due to the
Gulf War. The latter brought back to the country ap-
proximately 450,000 people (representing nearly 15%
increase in the population) over the short period of few
months [21]. Beside an average natural population
growth rate of 2.4% estimated during the period from
1999 to 2009 [22], there has been 450,000 to 500,000 of
Iraqis entered Jordan after the second Gulf War in 2003
[23]. These population increases, together with other
economical and technical constraints, have challenged
planners and decision makers to develop strategies to
solve many of the difficult problems in Jordan, and in
particular address solid waste management issues.
For many years, waste management in Jordan has been
undertaken in the context of an inadequate policy and
legislative direction and with insufficient financing.
Consequently, solid waste management systems have not
been developed to adequate levels. The primary envi-
ronmental legislation in Jordan is Law No. 52 of 2006:
Law for the Protection of the Environment. The man-
agement of solid wastes is addressed directly by Act un-
der this Law which is Act No. 25-A [24]. However, there
is a lack of detailed standards or specifications for solid
waste management as well as specific criteria for select-
ing appropriate locations of disposal sites. Thus, this
study will depend on criteria used by international or-
ganizations such as US Environmental Protection
Agency (US EPA) and other countries derived from lit-
erature reviews.
The amount of MSW generated in Jordan in 2006 was
about 2,309,575 ton/year which means an average of
1.13 kg/cap/day based on population number of 5.6 mil-
lions of the same year. In other words, the total estimated
daily generation of MSW in Jordan is about 6328 ton/day
disposed in 23 sites. The northern region contributes
about 1892 ton/day, the middle region generates about
3675 ton/day, and the southern region contributes about
761 ton/day [22].
It can be noted that the MSW in Jordan is character-
ized by a high organic content [25]. Food waste consti-
tutes almost 60% of the total waste at most disposal sites
as shown in Figure 1. On the other hand, paper wastes
are less than that in the developed countries which rep-
resent usually 30% - 40% [26].
Open dumping and controlled burning was practiced
in many of the final disposal sites (FDS) in Jordan, until
1990. One environmental problem of the existing dis-
posal sites is that none of them was suitably designed
and their locations grossly threatened the environment.
This has caused negative impacts on the environment
such as uncontrolled leachate that migrate to the
Figure 1. Municipal solid waste composition in Jordan in
(%) by weight [26].
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
groundwater or to surface water, and uncontrolled re-
lease of landfill gases which caused odor and other pub-
lic health problems [25,27].
The Jordanian Government recognized the adverse
consequences of open dumping and decided to follow the
environmental rules of MSW disposal site. Over the past
15 years sanitary landfilling of MSW has evolved as the
recommended method for the dispose of solid wastes in
Jordan. However, there are still improper methods for the
disposal of solid wastes and lack of qualified human re-
sources. The department of statistics published, as shown
in Figure 2, the disposal methods of solid waste in Jor-
dan [22]. About 99% of the dumping sites belong to mu-
nicipalities, whereas the remaining 1% is distributed
among burning in open area, disposing in bare land, and
Despite of being the landfilling method used in most
of the municipalities dumping sites led to less negative
environmental impacts, there are still some consequences
that require mitigation. For example, there are many
studies reported the negative impact of al-Akeeder land-
fill site, which is the main landfill site in northern Jordan,
due to the migration of heavy metals to deep layer and
threat the local aquifer, beside with the methane emission
resulted from the anaerobic decomposition of degradable
organic wastes [27,28]. Also, [26] suggested that there is
a need to replace the existing Mafraq landfill site, which
is used for Mafraq city and the surrounding villages, due
to the potential contamination of groundwater from the
existing disposal site, beside its proximity to the nearby
Figure 2. Disposal methods for municipal solid waste in
Jordan [22].
3. Study Area
The study area, as shown in Figure 3, is part of the Ma-
fraq Governorate which is the second largest governorate
in Jordan. The study area covers about 804 km2, and the
major city within the study area is Mafraq City. It is lo-
cated in the northern part of Jordan, and northeast of
Amman City, the capital city of Jordan. The climate in
the study area is arid climate. It is hot in summer and
cold in winter with an average annual temperature of 16
°C and an average rainfall of 164 mm/year.
Topographic information was obtained from a digital
elevation model (DEM) acquired by the Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission (SRTM) of the National Geospa-
tial–Intelligence Agency (NGA) [29]. The DEM has a
resolution of 90 × 90 m, and is available at the Global
Land Cover Facility (GLCF) of Maryland University,
USA. The elevation of the study area ranges from 553 m
to 935 m above sea level. The slope angle ranges from 0
to 98˚ with an average of 6˚.
Mafraq FDS, which is known also as Al-Husaineyat
FDS, has an area of 180,000 m2, a volume capacity of
400,000 m3, and a landfill capacity of 60 years (1986 -
2046) [30]. It is located 18 km southeast Mafraq city and
at a distance of 1.5 km from the main road, as shown in
Figure 4. The population using the Mafraq FDS, as of
2009, is approximately 281,000 inhabitants [22]. Mafraq
FDS receives municipal and industrial wastes of about
100 ton/day [25]. Food waste occupies about 52%, paper
waste is about 24%, and the rest of 24% is distributed
among plastics and rubbers, glasses and porcelain, and
metals, wood, and fibers [30].
Mafraq FDS execute neither sanitary landfill nor effi-
cient landfill since the wastes are occasionally covered
by soil, and the leachate and gas system does not exist
[25,26,30]. Therefore, it is highly recommended to
change the location of existing disposal site, due to its
Figure 3. Location map of the study area.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
Figure 4. (a) Color composite image of Landsat TM 1989
bands (7, 4, and 2) exposed through red, green and blue
filters, respectively. (b) Land use/cover map of the study
area based on analysis of Landsat TM 1989.
proximity to nearby villages and due to the potential
contamination of groundwater from the existing disposal
4. Methodology
The successful use of GIS depends on the accessibility of
data of adequate quantity and quality, representing di-
verse layers used to recreate the relevant real-world con-
ditions. The availability and accuracy of data can sig-
nificantly affect the results of any analysis. Therefore,
substantial effort should be made to complete and fre-
quently revise the necessary datasets that should be used
in GIS. The methodology is divided into two sub-meth-
odologies: creation of land use/cover maps and site se-
lection criteria using WLC and GIS.
4.1. Creation of Land Use/Cover Maps
Figures 4(a)-6(a) show a subset of each of Landsat TM,
acquired in February 1989, a Landsat ETM+, acquired in
March 1999, and a Landsat TM, acquired in January
2009, respectively. These images are used to create land
use/cover maps, and to monitor the urban expansions and
Figure 5. (a) Color composite image of Landsat ETM+ 1999
bands (7, 4, and 2) exposed through red, green and blue
filters, respectively. (b) Land use/cover map of the study
area based on analysis of Landsat ETM+ 1999.
their trends. The Landsat images were georeferenced to
Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection and
the WGS84 ellipsoid. A supervised classification system
using a maximum likelihood classifier was applied.
Maximum likelihood classification assumes that the sta-
tistics for each class in each band are normally distrib-
uted and calculates the probability that a given pixel be-
longs to a specific class. The Landsat images were clas-
sified into three land use/cover classes: urban, agriculture,
and bare land. A total of 150 pixels were selected for
each Landsat image. These pixels were checked against
1:50,000 and 1:10,000 topographic maps and with an
interpretation of in situ check. The overall accuracies
were 87, 89, and 88 for Landsat TM 1989, Landsat
ETM+ 1999, and Landsat TM 2009, respectively.
4.2. Site Selection Criteria Using WLC and GIS
A GIS based MCE technique, using WLC analysis, ex-
amines a number of possible choices for a siting problem,
taking into consideration multiple criteria and conflicting
objectives. In order to use GIS for site selection, data
were obtained from different sources and stored in the
GIS system. The data used in this case study, their for-
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
software uses a weighted sum analysis that is act as a
WLC analysis. A weighted sum analysis provides the
ability to weight and combine multiple inputs to create
an integrated analysis. In other words, it combines multi-
ple raster inputs, representing multiple factors, of differ-
ent weights or relative importance. It is one of common
methodologies used for site selection in general, and for
selecting solid waste disposal sites in particular.
In this study, the method of [7] was used for site selec-
tion criteria, with some variations in the selected pa-
rameters based on the local conditions of the study area.
This method can provide the decision makers several
options for selecting appropriate locations of landfill
sites, since using this method, the final output map will
range from the “most suitable” to “not suitable”.
All the attributes of input data were given scores. The
scores represent land constraints for siting a landfill that
range from 0 to 10. A score of 0 indicates no constraint,
and a score of 10 indicates a total constraint. Weights
were generally assigned to these maps to express the
relative importance. The total weight should be added up
to 100% in order for the output map to be meaningful
and consistent, and the attribute scores must be chosen
using a scheme that was the same for each map. In this
study, the maps of input data were not given equal im-
portance, since some factors were more important than
others when selecting suitable landfill sites. Moreover,
the importance of each factor could vary from one study
area to another depending on the local condition of each
Figure 6. (a) Color composite image of Landsat ETM+ 2009
bands (7, 4, and 2) exposed through red, green and blue
filters, respectively. (b) Land use/cover map of the study
area based on analysis of Landsat ETM+ 2009.
mats, and their sources are available in Table 1.
study area. Therefore, the selection of relative impor-
tance should be consistent with the local conditions of
To apply the WLC analysis practically, ArcGIS soft
ware package and its extensions were used. ArcGIS
Table 1. The geospatial data used in this study.
Factor Description Format Source
Urban area
Construction material, e.g. asphalt and concrete, typical
commercial and industrial buildings, dams, dikes, resi-
dential development (including single/multiple houses)
Raster Interpretation of Landsat satellite data
Agricultural areas such as olive farms, vegetable fields,
and annual crop fields, cultivated areas (irrigated and
non-irrigated vegetation)
Raster Interpretation of Landsat satellite data
Any transportation facilities, e.g. highways and local
Shapefile Department of Statistics, Jordan
Refers to the saturated zone material properties, which
control the groundwater movement
Surface aquifer map obtained from ministry of
Water and Irrigation, Jordan
Depth to
Represents the depth from the ground surface to the water
Well data obtained from Ministry of Water and
Irrigation, Jordan
Any planar fracture or discontinuity in a volume of rock,
across which there has been significant displacement
Interpretation of geological map scale 1:250,000
obtained from Natural Resources Authority, Jordan
Well Observation wells available within the study area Vector,
Well data obtained from Ministry of Water and
Irrigation, Jordan
network Refers to the Drainage systems occur in the study area Vector,
Interpretation of Digital elevation model (DEM) of
SRTM data available at Global Land Cover Facility
(GLCF) of Maryland University
Slope Refers to the slope of the land surface Raster
Interpretation of Digital elevation model (DEM) of
SRTM data available at Global Land Cover Facility
(GLCF) of Maryland University
the study area.
As mentioned earlier, there are no specific criteria for
selecting solid waste disposal sites in Jordan. The criteria
used in this study were based on criteria used in U.S
EPA [31] and other countries derived from literature
review with adjustments to local desired priorities and
requirements. Nine suitability criteria: distance from ur-
ban areas, distance from agricultural lands, distance from
roads, aquifer media, depth to water table, distance from
faults, distance from wells, distance from streams, and
slope, were used in this study. Each criterion was reclas-
sified, and then given ranking, to comply with a specific
scheme. Then, a final composite map was produced us-
ing WLC. The weights and scores were assigned after
several discussions with the local experts, and decision
makers, in addition to the previous knowledge of the
study area. As a general rule, it was decided to give
higher weightings to factors that affect directly on the
community such as distance from urban areas, distance
from agricultural lands, and distance to wells, whereas
the other factors, which have lower effects on the com-
munity or can be adjusted by engineering processes,
were assigned lower weightings. The Layers, the criteria
used, their scores, and their weights are summarized in
Table 2.
The WLC analysis was applied using the following
where S is the suitability, wi is a weighting of factor i,
and xi is the criterion score of factor i.
4.2.1. Distance from Urban Areas
The urban areas were mapped using the Landsat images
of 1989, 1999, and 2009. For the purpose of site selec-
Table 2. Attribute scores and weights for the maps used in the landfill site selection.
Category Layer Criteria Score Weight
<1 km 10
1 - 2 km 1
2 - 3 km 2
3 - 4 km 3
4 - 5 km 4
5 - 6 km 5
6 - 7 km 6
7 - 8 km 7
8 - 9 km 8
9 - 10 km 9
>10 km 10
<500 m 10
500 - 1 km 5
Land use/cover
>1 km 0
<0.2 km 10
0.2 - 1 km 0
1 - 2 km 1
2 - 3 km 2
3 - 4 km 3
4 - 5 km 4
5 - 6 km 5
6 - 7 km 6
7 - 8 km 7
8 - 9 km 8
9 - 10 km 9
Access Road
>10 km 10
Major Aquifer (B2/A7) 10
Minor Aquifer (Basalt) 5
Surface Aquifer
Non-Aquifer (A1-A6 and B3)0
<50 m 10
Depth to water table >50 m 0 0.05
<100 m 10
Fault >100 m 0 0.1
<300 m 10
300 - 500 m 5
>500 m 0
<500 m 10
500 - 1 km 5
Surface water Stream
>1 km 0
>20 % 10
10 - 20 % 5
Topography Slope
<10 % 0
opyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
tion criteria, the urban areas of 2009, as shown in Figure
6b, were used as initial point for future planning to select
the optimum landfill sites. As mentioned in many litera-
ture reviews such as [32,33], the landfill site should not
be located very close to urban area. It should be situated
at a significant distance away from urban areas due to
public concerns, for example aesthetic, odor, noise, and
health concerns. Using spatial analysis, buffer zones of
1,000 m distance were created around urban areas. [7]
suggested that the landfill site must be located within 10
km of an urban area. Therefore, a score of 10 was given
to distances less than 1,000 m and more than 10 km of an
urban area. Other score values were given to distances
mentioned in Table 2. High weight of 0.15 was assigned
to this factor, because it affects directly on the commu-
nity, which should be given a priority in the planning for
selecting landfill site.
4.2.2. Distance from Agricu ltural Land s
It is very important to determine the locations of agri-
cultural lands to avoid placing the landfill sites within
these lands. Also, placing the landfill sites very close to
agricultural lands is not recommended, due to the nega-
tive effects of odor and insects on the farmers and crops,
which consequently may affect on the agricultural activi-
ties. The agricultural lands were mapped using the
Landsat images of 1989, 1999, and 2009. As the case of
urban areas, the agricultural lands of 2009, as illustrated
in Figure 6(b), were used as initial point for future plan-
ning to select the optimum landfill sites. A buffer of 500
m distance was created around agricultural land using
GIS spatial analysis, and then a score value of 10 was
given to a distance of less than 500 m, and a score value
of 0 of more than 1000 m. Also, a weighting of 0.15 was
given to this factor, because it has a direct effect on the
community, which is very important when planning for a
landfill site.
4.2.3. Di stance from Roads
There is no specific rule of what should be the best dis-
tance to place the landfill site. Most studies suggested
that the landfill site should be located within a 1 km
buffer from the roads [7,33,34]. However, planners may
prefer to give an aesthetic concern when deciding a loca-
tion of a landfill site. Also, the landfill sites should not be
placed too far from the roads to decrease the cost of
transportations. The road network in the study area was
obtained from the Jordanian Department of Statistics in
GIS vector format. Using GIS spatial analysis, a buffer
was created around road network at distances mentioned
in Table 2. Considering the huge cost of transportation,
it was decided to give a score of 0 to the a distance
ranges from 200 m to 1000 m, while distances of less
than 200 m and more than 10 km were given a score of
10, as shown in Table 2. A weighting value of 0.1 was
assigned to this factor, since this factor can be adjusted
by planners and engineers based on the project condi-
4.2.4. Su rface Aquifers
The water resources in Jordan are in very critical situa-
tion [35]. Therefore, it is very important to give the sur-
face aquifers more attention when selecting suitable
landfill sites. The surface aquifer map, as shown in Fig-
ure 7(a), was provided by the Jordanian Ministry of
Water and Irrigation in GIS vector format. The vector
file was converted to grid format for further analysis us-
ing WLC. In the study area, the main aquifer is called the
Amman-Wadi Sir aquifer system (B2/A7). The B2/A7
aquifer behaves as a phreatic aquifer, where precipitation
enters directly through the fractured outcrops of the
Amman-Wadi Sir Formations. Consequently, this aquifer
was a given a score of 10, to avoid locating the landfill
sites within its boundary. Another aquifer exists in the
study area, which considered as minor aquifer, is the
Basalt aquifer. This aquifer was a given a score of 5,
since its probability to contaminate the groundwater is
not so high compared with the B2/A7 aquifer. The Ajlun
Group (A1 - A6) and the Muwaqqar Formation (B3) are
considered as aquitards, because of their low permeabil-
ity, thus, they were given a score of 0. This factor was
given a weighting value of 0.1 because of its importance
towards the environment in general and groundwater in
particular, beside its effect on the community in the long
4.2.5. Depth to Wa ter Tabl e
It represents the depth from the ground surface to the
water table. The depth to water table, as illustrated in
Figure 7(b), was determined using the inverse distance
weighting (IDW) interpolation technique of the water
level data, which obtained from existing wells in the
study area, provided by the Jordanian Ministry of Water
and Irrigation. It was found that most of the water-table
depths exceeding 50 m within the study area, conse-
quently, the depths of 50 m were given a score of 10,
whereas other depths were given a score of 0. A weight
of 0.05 was assigned to this factor, due to the presence of
the water table at depths of >50 m in most of the study
area. This means the travel time of leachate is very long
in order to reach the water table.
4.2.6. Distance from Faults
It is safer if the landfill sites can be located away from
the fault system. This can prevent the leachate from
finding a way to percolate into the groundwater. In this
opyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
Figure 7. (a) The surface aquifers within the study area. (b) The depth to water table in meter within the study area. (c) The
distance to fault system used in this study . (d) The distance to wells used in this study. (e) The distance to streams used in this
study, the fault system was extracted from the geologic
maps scale 1:250,000 through a digitizing process. Based
on [31], the landfill site shall not be located within 60
meters of a fault. To be more careful regarding the dis-
tance from the fault system, a buffer of 100 m distance
was created around the fault system, as shown in Figure
7(c), and a score value of 10 was given to a distance of
100 m or less, while a score value of 0 was given to dis-
tances of >100 m. A weighting value of 0.1 was assigned
to this factor because of its influence on the groundwater,
which can lead to a negative effect on the community.
4.2.7. Distance to Wells
Proximity of a landfill site to a groundwater well is an
important environmental criterion in the landfill site se-
lection so that wells may be protected from the runoff
and leaching of the landfill. There is no specific criterion
of what is the best distance to locate the landfill site
away from groundwater wells. For example [1] sug-
gested that the landfill sites should be located 300 m far
from the groundwater wells, while [36] suggested a 500
m away from the groundwater wells. In this study, a dis-
tance of 300 m from the wells, as shown in Figure 7(d),
was assigned a score value of 10, to prevent contamina-
tion from landfill leachates, whereas a score value of 0
was assigned to distances of >500 m. This factor was
given a weighting of 0.15 to increase its importance of
protecting the groundwater from pollution, in addition to
its direct influence on the community.
4.2.8. Distance to Streams
Solid waste disposal sites must not be located into sur-
face water (streams, rivers, lakes, sea). The EU directives
stated that a 500 m buffer zone should be maintained
around significant water bodies, as illustrated in Figure
7(e) [36]. Most of the surface water in the study area is in
the form of streams that occurred during heavy rains in
winter season. Thus, a score value of 10 was given to a
distance of 500 m, while a score value of 0 was given to
distances of >1000 m. A weighting value of 0.1 was
given to this factor, because of its influence on the envi-
4.2.9. Land Slope
A slope map was created through the interpretation of
DEM that covers the study area. [37,38] stated that nei-
ther too steep nor too flat land slopes are appropriate for
placing a landfill site, and a slope of less than 12%
would suitable. In this study a slope of 10% was as-
signed a score value of 0, while a slope of >20% was
assigned a score value of 10. A weighting factor of 0.1
was assigned to this factor [1], because of its importance
toward the environment to have a stable location for the
solid wastes.
opyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
5. Results and Discussion
5.1. Land use/Cover Maps
Figures 4(b) to 6(b) show the land use/cover maps re-
sulted from classifying the Landsat images of 1989, 1999,
and 2009, respectively. Among the three land use/cover
classes, urban class is the main class of interest. It is
clear from Table 3 that there is a continuous urban ex-
pansion during the last three decades. The urban area
increased from 11.5 km2 in 1989 to 26.5 km2 in 1999,
and then to 39.7 km2 in 2009. In the last 30 years, the
urban area expanded more than 240%, which put some
pressures on the existing solid waste disposal site.
Generally, the directions of urban expansion in the
study area were toward south, and southwest. While the
villages, which are located very close to the existing dis-
posal site, took different directions. They expanded to-
ward east, and northeast to avoid getting closer to the
solid waste disposal site more, as illustrated in Figure 8.
5.2. Landfill Site Selection
Figure 9 shows the land suitability map for selecting the
best possible solid waste disposal sites within the study
area. The land suitability map was divided into five
classes: most suitable, suitable, moderately suitable,
poorly suitable, and unsuitable. Table 4 shows that
45.1% of the study area has a “moderately suitable” class
of landfill site selection, whereas a total of 39.2% of the
study area has “most suitable” and “suitable” classes.
The “poorly suitable” and “unsuitable” classes for land-
fill site selection occupied a total of 15.7% of the study
Table 3. Summary of land use/cover classification statistics between 1989 and 2009 (area in km2).
1989 1999 2009
Land use/cover
classes Area (km2)Area (%) Area (km2)Area (%)Area (km2)Area (%)
Urban 11.5 1.4 26.5 3.3 39.7 4.9
Agriculture 78.6 9.8 65.8 8.2 76.0 9.4
Bare land 713.9 88.8 711.8 88.5 688.4 85.6
Total 804 100.0 804 100 804 100.0
Table 4. Statistical analysis for the Landfill site suitability map.
Class Area (km2) Area (%)
Most suitable 63.5 7.9
Suitable 251.4 31.3
Moderately suitable 362.8 45.1
Poorly suitable 116.4 14.5
Unsuitable 10.0 1.2
Total 804.0 100.0
Figure 8. The urban expansion within the study area during the period from 1989 to 2009.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
Based on the land suitability map, the existing solid
waste disposal site, as illustrated in Figure 9, is located
within “moderately suitable” class. This gives an indica-
tion that the location of the existing disposal site is in
critical situation. The presence of the existing disposal
site very close to the nearby villages is not recommended,
since it can increase the health risks to the people who
are living in these villages. According to [30] the wastes
were not covered by soil regularly, which gave the flies
and insects a good environment to increase.
The continuous urban expansion due to the continuous
population growth will increase the unsuitability of the
existing disposal site. As stated earlier, the urban area
increased from 11.5 km2 to 39.7 km2 within the last three
decades, and it is expected to increase more in the future,
as this is the usual trend all over the world. Therefore, it
is necessary to have other alternatives of solid waste lo-
cations in order to plan for better land use/cover in the
In this study three locations were suggested to alter-
nate the existing disposal site, as shown in Figure 9. Site
(A) on either sides of the nearby existing road is highly
recommended among the other sites. This site is not lo-
cated too close to any village or residential area, which
can open the chance to operate this site for a long period.
In the same time, there is a wide area of most suitable
class for landfill site, which can help the engineers to
choose the best location.
Site (B) is also located within the most suitable class
for landfill site, and it is located near to the existing dis-
posal site, which might be acceptable from the public.
The main problem with this site is that it might not be
used for a long period, and it could be used for short to
intermediate periods only. This is attributed to the pres-
ence of the nearby lands of site (B) within “suitable” and
“moderately suitable” classes for landfill site, which
made this land is highly susceptible to deterioration after
short to intermediate periods.
The location of site (C) was not used for the last three
decades, which can be suitable to be used as an alterna-
tive of the existing disposal site. The main problem with
this site is that it might not be accepted from the public,
especially that this land is considered very close to
Mafraq city compared with other suggested sites. How-
ever, the area of “most suitable” class for landfill within
site (C) cover a large area, which gives the planners a
great opportunity to negotiate with the public to decide
the best location of a new disposal site without getting
any disagreement.
A field survey was conducted to check the conditions
of the suggested alternative sites. It was found that all the
suggested sites, from environmental point of view, can
be suitable for a new landfill site. But, in terms of plan-
ning and public opinion there might have different views,
which might need further investigations, taking into con-
sideration more detailed engineering, geotechnical, and
hydrogeological studies.
6. Conclusions
GIS and WLC as analysis tools are valuable tools that
can support the decision makers to find best possible
solid waste disposal sites. The GIS analysis requires col-
lecting data from different sources with different formats
Figure 9. Landfill site suitability in the study area.
opyright © 2011 SciRes. JGIS
to create a complete uniform database. Thus, the GIS
data should be updated regularly in order to reflect the
current situation of an area under investigation. Remote
sensing data can assist to have updated information of
the study area. Also, it can support the decision makers
to monitor the investigated area using different dates of
satellite images to study the trend of urban expansion for
Three candidate sites were suggested based on the
methodology and available data applied in this research.
Generally, the suggested sites comply with the minimum
requirements of the landfill sites. However, any GIS
model is limited to the available data, which in this study;
nine parameters were considered. Therefore, any addi-
tional information such as wind direction, land price,
detailed soil data, and other social and economical fac-
tors can enhance the outputs of the GIS model, and pro-
vide more realistic results.
The planners and the decision makers can get useful
information about the possible locations of landfill sites
using this methodology. Especially that the site ranking
process allows for easily readjustment of the criteria
weights in case a sensitivity analysis is required. Never-
theless, defining detailed and standard criteria by the
Ministry of Environment that comply with the local con-
ditions of Jordan can enhance the outputs of GIS models
used for the purpose of finding a suitable landfill site.
However, getting public agreement on any candidate
landfill site is a must, and can not be avoided. Therefore,
the local community should participate in the selection
process of a landfill site to avoid any opposition in the
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