Environmental Impacts of Turfgrass -- “A Natural Filter”
With today’s ecological concerns, many more people are considering planting turfgrass for its immediate environmental benefits. The U.S. Congress has acknowledged these positive benefits to our environment, by saying:
“Turfgrass in urban areas and communities can aid in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, mitigating the heat island effect, reducing energy consumption and contributing to efforts to reduce global warming.”
One of the major causes of our growing water quality problem is runoff of contaminants from hard surfaces, such as roads and parking lots. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has titled this process “Stormwater Runoff.” Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground.
As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building roof tops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharge untreated.
Runoff can be reduced by establishing new lawns and turfgrass areas. Turfgrass purifies the water as it moves through the root zone and down into our underground aquifers. Soil microbes help break down chemicals into harmless materials. This filtration system is so effective that rain water filtered through a good healthy lawn is often as much as 10 times less acidic than water running off a hard surface.
These filtration properties are also the reason that turfgrass is used to help recycle reclaimed water. Reclaimed water cannot be returned to most municipal water supplies or released into streams, lakes, or oceans, but it can be irrigated onto turfgrass where it’s cleaned as it passes down the root zone. Ten percent of U.S. golf courses are already using reclaimed water for their turfgrass irrigation.
Healthy growing turfgrasses act as biological filters and remove atmospheric pollutants. In addition to the positive benefits to the environment, turfgrasses play an important agronomic role in Texas.
by Kent Davis
Contributor, eParis Extra!
Kent Davis is a Paris Native and owner of Turf Workz Hydroseeding. Turf Workz is a Hydroseeding and Erosion Control company that services residential and commercial markets. Kent graduated from North Lamar High School and attended Paris Junior College. Turf Workz is a tenant of R3BI under the supervision of Director Hank Betke. Kent has been employed at Sara Lee Bakery, Kroger Facility Engineering and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners.