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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbus, Ohio » Soil Drainage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #201169

Title: Nutrient Load Generated by Storm Event Runoff from a Golf Course Watershed

item King, Kevin
item Harmel, Daren

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/21/2007
Publication Date: 5/25/2007
Citation: King, K.W., Balogh, J.C., Hughes, K., Harmel, R.D. 2007. Nutrient Load Generated by Storm Event Runoff from a Golf Course Watershed. Journal of Environmental Quality. 36:1021-1030.

Interpretive Summary: There is a worldwide emphasis on the environmental impact assessment of watershed scale land use and management. Watersheds are comprised of many different landscape features and land uses. One such significant land use is golf courses. Golf courses are the most intensively managed land use in the urban landscape. We collected data for 5 years from a municipal golf course in Austin, TX to quantify the impact of this specific land use on surface water quality. The results indicate that nitrogen losses from managed turf do not appear to pose any significant environmental risk; however, phosphorus concentrations were at levels that exceed existing recommendations and were consistent with those known to lead to eutrophication. These results highlight the need for watershed stakeholders to develop and adhere to watershed management plans that integrate multiple land uses.

Technical Abstract: Turf systems are prevalent in urban areas, and include the grassed areas of home lawns, roadsides, commercial property, golf courses, parks, recreational resorts, schools, churches, cemeteries, and airports. Turf is the most intensively managed land use system in the urban landscape. Substantial inputs of fertilizers and water to maintain these systems have led to a perception that turf systems are a major contributor to non-point source water pollution. The primary objective of this study was to quantify nutrient (NO3-N, NH4-N, and PO4-P) transport in storm generated surface runoff from a watershed scale turf system (golf course). Storm event samples were collected for 5-years (April 1, 1998-March 31, 2003) from the Morris Williams Municipal Golf Course in Austin, TX. Samples were collected at the inflow and outflow points of a stream that transected the golf course. One hundred fifteen runoff producing precipitation events were measured. Median NO3-N and PO4-P concentrations at the outflow location were significantly (p < 0.05) greater than like concentrations measured at the inflow location; however, median NH4-N concentration measured at the outflow was significantly less than that measured at the inflow location. Storm water runoff transported 1.2 kg NO3-N ha-1 yr-1, 0.23 kg NH4-N ha-1 yr-1, and 0.51 kg PO4-P ha-1 yr-1 from the course. These storm flow amounts represent approximately 3.3% of applied N and 6.2% of applied P over the contributing area for the same period. NO3-N transport in storm water runoff from this course does not pose a substantial environmental risk; however, the median PO4-P concentration exiting the course exceeded the EPA recommendation 0.1 mg L-1 for streams not discharging into lakes. The PO4-P load measured in this study was comparable to soluble P rates measured from agricultural lands. The findings of this study emphasize the need to balance course fertility management with environmental risks, especially with respect to phosphorus.