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|The lysimeter is a useful tool for evaluating the performance of mine waste covers or liners. A major problem with its application is the possibility for preferential flow into or away from the lysimeter, if the lysimeter soil is finer or coarser than the barrier soil or sub-base soil. Analysis of a field lysimeter using a two-dimensional unsaturated-saturated liquid flow model suggested that preferential flow would occur and little or no water would be collected; however, in the field, the lysimeters collected significant amounts of water. A similar discrepancy was found between the observed and predicted water balance of a simple laboratory test simulating the lysimeter design. Vapour flow and partial flow, two phenomena not generally simulated in conventional flow models, are possible explanations for the difference between field and laboratory observations.|