Lawn Management- the”low hanging fruit” opportunity for nitrogen control
Over the past six years Wright-Pierce has written extensively about nitrogen impairment of coastal waters and the need for nitrogen control strategies to achieve water quality objectives. One important article addressed "Nitrogen – as the 21st Century Coastal Environment Challenge. To read more about nitrogen challenges, click here.
The three biggest sources of nitrogen imported into watershed include:
Food which becomes wastewater discharged to a septic system or public sewer system|
Atmospheric nitrogen pollution which gets deposited onto the landscape
Fertilizer used for agricultural land and lawn/turf grass care
Of all the sources of nitrogen, the fertilizer used on lawns and turf grass is the nitrogen source most economically reduced and should be a first line strategy for every nitrogen impaired watershed.
The fact is the subdivision house with ¼ acre to 1+ acre lawn is as American as apple pie and as a result of all those lawns, a huge lawn care industry has emerged offering to help us keep those lawns green. The lawn care industry generally generates more revenue the more nitrogen they sell and most of the companies recommend the average homeowner apply 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet of lawn per year. These recommendations are decades old, excessive and uniformed by today’s water quality challenges. If a homeowner has a ½ acre of lawn and apply 4 lbs of N/1000sf/year, they will discharge to their property over twice as much nitrogen as they discharge to their wastewater system.
The good news is there are strategies to significantly reduce the nitrogen used on lawns and many good resources to assist communities and homeowners in this endeavor, such as the Turfgrass Nutrient Management Bulletin B-0100 produced by University of Connecticut (see their recommendations in blue sidebar).
To effectively reduce the nitrogen from lawn management, communities will have to:
Educate the public regarding the environmental and cost implications of lawn fertilizers
Educate the public regarding lawn care best management practices
Modify the perception of what constitutes attractive landscaping
Consider regulatory strategies
Wright-Pierce has been at the forefront of integrated watershed management for nitrogen control and is ready to assist your community address this important environmental issue.
Here in New England, climate change is already impacting the quality of drinking water supply reservoirs and impoundments. More erratic precipitation patterns, increasingly heavy precipitation events and changing stream flow patterns are here. How are these weather changes impacting water quality? How can we monitor our water supplies to plan ahead for changes that may be needed to our treatment facilities?
Tracking Changes and Trends
Identifying key water quality indicators and tracking changes and trends over time is the best predictive tool to understand if your source of supply is at risk from climate change. For example, tracking mercury concentrations in your reservoir water column is one such indicator.
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Discolored Water … Staining of Bathroom Fixtures… Laundry Staining… The Woes of Excess Manganese
Written by: Rich Protasowicki, Senior Project Manager
If you have manganese (Mn) in your raw water source(s) and are not treating for it, there’s a good possibility that your consumers are letting you know about it. Whether it’s a call about dirty water, staining of bathroom fixtures, or laundry staining you’ve probably had to respond to one or all of these consumer complaints. In fact, you may be hearing more about manganese in the future as regulators take a closer look at it and how itrelates to public health.
Nitrogen is a component of all living things and is essential to life itself. In environments that are not influenced by man, nitrogen is usually in short supply. However, human activity is dramatically changing this situation and there are negative consequences of having “too much of a good thing.”
To address this growing problem and to ensure sustainability, control of nitrogen releases to the environment is a top priority for communities across this country.
Excess nitrogen causes excessive phytoplankton (algae) growth which in turn decrease water clarity and decreases dissolved oxygen. These water quality changes can adversely impact submerged plants like eelgrass which in turn creates a host of impacts to fisheries and other marine life.
Nitrogen pollution is the number one threat to our coastal waters. An excess of nitrogen in coastal and estuarine waters can have cascading environmental consequences.