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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

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


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 4, p. 1021-1030
    Received: Sept 22, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): king.220@osu.edu
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  1. K. W. King *a,
  2. J. C. Baloghb,
  3. K. L. Hughesc and
  4. R. D. Harmeld
  1. a USDA-ARS, 590 Woody Hayes Drive, Columbus, OH 43210
    b Spectrum Research Inc., 4915 E. Superior St., Suite 100, Duluth, MN 55804
    c The Ohio State Univ., 590 Woody Hayes Dr., Columbus, OH 43210
    d USDA-ARS, 808 E. Blackland Rd., Temple, TX 76502


Turf, including home lawns, roadsides, golf courses, parks, etc., is often the most intensively managed land use in the urban landscape. Substantial inputs of fertilizers and water to maintain turf systems have led to a perception that turf systems are a major contributor to nonpoint 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 golf course. Storm event samples were collected for 5 yr (1 Apr. 1998–31 Mar. 2003) from the Morris Williams Municipal Golf Course in Austin, TX. Inflow and outflow samples were collected from 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 outflow NH4–N concentration was significantly less than the median inflow concentration. 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 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 USEPA recommendation of 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 golf course fertility management with environmental risks, especially with respect to phosphorus.

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