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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Kansas Section 319 Success Stories, Vol. III

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Braeburn Golf Course Project:
Nitrates Reduced by More Than 80 Percent

 

 
High nutrient levels cause algae blooms, which reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen available to fish and other aquatic creatures.

High nutrient levels cause algae blooms, which reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen available to fish and other aquatic creatures.

Improving the water quality at Braeburn Golf Course began as part of a larger project looking at urban runoff and its effects on nonpoint source pollution. This 319-funded project was initiated through an agreement between the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Wichita State University (WSU). The project commenced in 1997 with sampling of water quality conditions at 13 sites, including public parks, urban lawns and streets, a row crop agricultural site, and two golf courses, one of which was Braeburn. The objective was to identify areas with contaminated runoff coming from them and then implement best management practices (BMPs) to determine the BMPs' effectiveness in reducing nonpoint source pollution. A number of parameters commonly associated with urban storm water, including pesticides and nutrients, were the focus of monitoring.

Of all the sites tested, Braeburn Golf Course showed the most significant contamination and presented itself as an optimal site for BMP implementation. Excessive amounts of nutrients in the form of nitrates and total phosphorus were found in the ponds, prompting the growth of excessive aquatic vegetation and algae blooms. The golf course superintendent had reported fish kills in the past, likely due to the biodegradation and subsequent oxygen depletion caused by these algae blooms. Periods of elevated pesticide contamination were evident, typically in the spring and early summer during major application times, and herbicides had caused violations of water quality criteria during those times. In addition, the algaecide copper sulfate was being used to control algae blooms. Copper sulfate can have extremely toxic effects on aquatic organisms, especially when found in combination with various pesticides. An assessment of macroinvertebrates revealed that only a few tolerant organisms inhabited the ponds.

Wetlands were created to catch runoff water and reduce the nutrients entering the ponds.

Wetlands were created to catch runoff water and reduce the nutrients entering the ponds.

Alterations in golf course maintenance

Because of these circumstances, researchers at WSU selected Braeburn as the site for BMP implementation. In cooperation with golf course superintendent Kent Trexler, various alterations to golf course maintenance procedures were imposed. Chemical application procedures were modified, using slow-release fertilizers and applying chemicals at a reduced rate. Thirty-foot buffer zones in which no chemicals were applied were established around the perimeters of the ponds on the golf course, increasing grass density and biomass to aid filtration of runoff. The use of copper sulfate for algae control was discontinued; instead, biological controls (grass carp), as well as aquatic dye to act as a photoinhibitor to the algae, were used. Rainwater drainage patterns also were changed to route runoff into filtration areas, not directly into the ponds as done previously.

Water quality improvements

Post-BMP water sampling, conducted for more than a year in two ponds at Braeburn, revealed that nitrates were reduced by more than 80 percent and total phosphorus values dropped by 40 percent and 60 percent in the two ponds. In addition, contamination from pesticides was all but eliminated. An assessment of macroinvertebrates showed an increase from 5 families collected before BMP implementation to 16 families sampled following BMPs, along with a shift from tolerant organisms to those more sensitive to water quality such as mayfly, butterfly, dragonfly, and damselfly larvae. These improvements in macroinvertebrate family richness provide biological evidence that BMPs are improving water quality conditions on the golf course.

A backhoe removed accumulated sediment from the pond in an effort to improve aquatic habitat and control future algae blooms.

A backhoe removed accumulated sediment from the pond in an effort to improve aquatic habitat and control future algae blooms.
 
Contact:
Nate Davis
Wichita State University
1845 North Fairmount
Wichita, KS 67260-0026
316-978-5841
nmdavis@wichita.edu
Primary Sources of Pollution:

golf course maintenance

urban storm water
Primary NPS Pollutants:

pesticides

nutrients
Project Activities:

modified chemical applications

buffers

rerouting drainage patterns
Results:

pesticides eliminated

reductions in nitrates (80%) and total phosphorus (40-60%)

improvements in macroinvertebrates

 

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On-site Sewage Disposal on Difficult Sites:
Special Conditions Demand Alternative Response

 

Many of the soils in Kansas present challenges to the on-site disposal of domestic wastewater. When site evaluations reveal shallow or heavy clay soils, bedrock close to the surface, or other limiting conditions, alternatives to conventional septic tank lateral fields are needed to provide adequate treatment and disposal of the wastewater. Constructed wetlands are a relatively inexpensive technology to achieve this. Although constructed wetlands have been successfully used in other states, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), which is responsible for the on-site wastewater program, funded the installation of some demonstration systems that were monitored for 2 years to verify their effectiveness in the midwestern climate.

In cooperation with the See-Kan Resource Conservation and Development District, which covers nine counties in southeastern Kansas, three home sites with failing wastewater systems were identified. The sites were characteristic of the shallow, heavy clay soils that predominate in the area, and the homeowners were willing to participate in the demonstration with the hope that the data would assist others having similar problems. KDHE designed the constructed wetlands systems, which were installed in spring 1994. The design and construction included easily accessible sampling ports to monitor the quality of the effluent at various locations throughout the treatment cell.

Evaluation of monthly sampling results, conducted for 2 years by students from Pittsburg State University, showed significant reductions in all of the parameters analyzed. As a result of this demonstration project, additional constructed wetlands have been installed throughout the state. Several hundred people, including sanitarians, homeowners, conservation district personnel, contractors, and other interested parties, have attended tours of the sites to observe the systems firsthand. Two manuals have been written: Rock-Plant Filter Design and Construction for Home Wastewater Systems and Rock-Plant Filter Operation, Maintenance, and Repair. Now in operation for 6 years, the original demonstration projects are all thriving and the homeowners are thrilled to have solved their wastewater disposal problems.
 
Contact:
Don Snethen
Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Nonpoint Source Section
785-296-5567
Primary Sources of Pollution:

failing on-site wastewater treatment systems
Primary NPS Pollutants:

nutrients

fecal coliform bacteria

total suspended solids (TSS)
Project Activities:

constructed wetlands
Results:

decreased concentrations of TSS, fecal coliform bacteria, biochemical oxygen demand, ammonia, phosphorus

 

 
 

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