Thursday, August 20, 2009

Landscape Runoff Worse Than Thought

Two stories published today covered findings presented at the American Chemical Society conference in Washington, D.C. Water Technology Online reports that:
The amount of water pollution contributed by homes may have been underestimated by up to 50 percent, according to researchers who presented their findings during the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), being held here through August 20.

According to an ACS August 19 press release, the study of eight residential areas in California’s Sacramento and Orange counties found that runoff from rainfall and lawn-watering ends up in municipal storm drains. It washes fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into storm drains, and they end up in rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.

“Results from our sampling and monitoring study revealed high detection frequencies of pollutants such as pesticides and pathogen indicators at all sites,” researcher Lorence Oki said of the study. Darren Haver and colleagues joined Oki in the study.

Scientific American's coverage noted that:

Water that runs off from these green acres typically picks up a load of fertilizers, pesticides and other potentially toxic chemicals, and washes them—via sewers or directly—into lakes, rivers, streams and even the ocean. Once there, joined by similar runoff from agriculture, the chemicals can drive a host of environmental problems, ranging from dead zones to contaminated fish.

Previous estimates of how much water pollution derived from the suburbs was based simply on rainfall. But horticulturalist Lorence Oki of the University of California, Davis, and his colleagues found that sprinklers and other irrigation techniques also led to significant runoff that, in some cases, carried more pollution with it from the eight neighborhoods studied in Sacramento and Orange counties than runoff after a rain storm.

Great stories by both publications, though honestly, it's not really news to us here at Hydropoint. After all, our controllers have been proven in CalEPA studies to reduce runoff pollution by 71%. So what's the bottom line here? Home landscapes contribute 50% more runoff pollution than previously thought, in some cases irrigation is responsible for more pollution than rainfall, and you can reduce your contribution to this problem by nearly 3/4 by installing a WeatherTRAK controller. Big problem, simple solution.

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