Submitted to: Environmental Pollution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/29/2007
Publication Date: 3/26/2007
Citation: King, K.W., Balogh, J., Harmel, R.D. 2007. Nutrient Flux in Storm Water Runoff and Baseflow from Managed Turf. Environmental Pollution. 150:321-328.
Interpretive Summary: Agricultural lands located on the urban fringe continue to be absorbed by urban development at unprecedented rates. The urban developed area consists of many land uses including residential dwellings, golf courses, parks, industrial sites, etc. Of these land uses, golf courses are the most intensively managed. There exists approximately 31000 golf courses worldwide (17000 in the US) but only one assessment of the environmental loading from a golf course watershed. We measured nutrient loading for 5 years at 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: The urban landscape is comprised of many different land uses, none more intensively managed than turfgrass. Recent studies have measured the nitrogen and phosphorus losses from urban watersheds; however, quantification of nitrogen and phosphorus losses from various land uses within urban watersheds, specifically golf courses is limited. Storm event and baseflow hydrology and water quality (nitrogen and phosphorus) data were collected from a golf course in Austin, TX from April 1, 1998 to March 31, 2003 to assess the impact of golf courses on surface water nutrient flux. Median NO3-N concentrations measured in baseflow and storm flow were significantly (p<0.05) greater exiting the course compared to those concentrations entering the course. The median dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) concentration measured in storm flow exiting the course was significantly (p<0.05) greater than the concentration entering the course. There was no detectable difference in the baseflow DRP concentration entering or exiting the course. The measured NO3-N loading from the course was 4.0 kg ha-1 yr-1 (11% of applied) while the DRP loading was 0.66 kg ha-1 yr-1 (8% of applied). The resulting course concentration was 1.2 mg L-1 NO3-N and 0.2 mg L-1 DRP. NO3-N from this course poses little environmental risk. However, the DRP concentration is twice the recommended level to guard against eutrophication. Implementation of best management practices designed to combat phosphorus losses would help alleviate the issues identified in this study.