Everyone loves the wide green expanse of suburban lawns and the carefully manicured fairways and greens of golf courses. Or do they? While those of us who grew up in suburbia have become accustomed to these staples of the environment, the environment is not always so happy with the runoff that these vistas produce—especially when it comes to water quality and pending algae blooms.
For example, Lake Erie, which has always seemed to be ground zero when it comes to monitoring water quality, was well known for severe algae blooms and dead zones in the 1960s. The smallest Great Lake saw significant improvement in water quality after the 1972 federal Clean Water Act and the 1978 bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement which led to impressive reductions in phosphorus. However, now problems are on the rise once again. In 2011, the most severe algae bloom on record was recorded and in the fall of 2013 another toxic algae bloom caused the shut-off of a public water supply in Ohio. And more problems are predicted for this coming summer.
While the agricultural use of phosphate‐containing fertilizers which has increased as the acreage of farmlands has expanded over time has come under increasing fire for the situation, golf courses and residential runoff also contribute to the problem. Related to agriculture, the companies that are responsible for those fertilizers are beginning to promote sustainability initiatives. And farmers, who are making a difference to improve America’s water resources as they provide America’s food supply, have adopted nutrient use management practices which minimize nutrient runoff from their operations.
The next step is finding solutions for golf course and residential runoff. If they are designed with the environment and water quality in mind, a golf course or a backyard has the potential to be an active biological filter that generates clean water.
The first place to start with a golf course is where it is to be located. It’s easier to site the course in a place where environmental concerns can be minimized. Instead of looking at the vacant site only with the idea of how it would best suit the golfer, look at the site with an eye to protecting the environment.
Rain gardens for residential property offer an attractive way to soak up rain water. Creating an appealing area for birds and butterflies, they can improve local water quality by giving rainwater time to slowly percolate into the ground where impurities can settle out. They also can reduce local flooding. Most people don’t realize that because of the solid surfaces in a residential area such as streets, roofs, driveways, and sidewalks, the typical city block generates five times more runoff than undeveloped land. And this water that has picked up heat from pavement and other contaminants along the way ends up degrading our water supply.
The Barton Marketing Group which specializes in life sciences and agriculture can help get your message about ensuring the quality of our water supply to the audiences who need to hear it.
Water conservation is critical to life on earth. But as important as the conservation of water is, it is equally—if not more important—that the water we conserve is safe. The specter of climate change and an ever increasing population that needs water not only for the hydration of crops and livestock, but for thirsty people as well, makes this the 21st Century’s major challenge.
Regulation and sustainability are key when it comes to water. Pollution can come from many sources and some of them many not be immediately obvious. Of course we all remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—also known as the BP oil spill or the BP oil disaster—that began on April 20, 2010, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. As you can imagine with an event of such notoriety, regulators were able to identify the point of origin and levy the appropriate fines and penalties.
But as dramatic as that spill and the subsequent cleanup efforts were, it is important to remember that pollution can come from many sources that don’t make the headlines. For instance, some such as fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides are harder to diagnose. They come from places such as farm land, golf courses and suburban lawns. It is important to remember that they helped to increase our food supply and enhance our environments. But over the years, we have come to know that they do cause pollution. Although the tributary network that feeds the Mississippi River is vast, there is absolute proof of pollution in the Delta dead zone. Additionally, algae blooms in lakes and rivers impact marine life affecting the fishing industry for both food and sport.
But there is good news on more than one front. The companies that are responsible for those fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides are beginning to promote sustainability initiatives. Although there is no standardized comprehensive definition for a sustainability initiative, there are three important features that distinguish a program as sustainable. They are the effective use of material and energy, a shift away from non-renewable, non-biodegradable materials, and the prevention of emissions and contaminants from having a negative environmental impact.
And farmer heroes, who are making a difference to improve America’s water resources as they provide America’s food supply, have adopted nutrient use management practices which minimize nutrient runoff from their operations. To read their individual stories, go to epa.gov/nutrientpollution/farmer-heroes-manage-nutrients-farm
For millennia, the Earth’s fresh water supply has washed across the landscapes of the world supplied by rainfall, snow and glacial melt, runoff and infiltration. If telling the story of how you are working to improve the quality of that water supply for the hydration of crops and livestock, as well as for thirsty people is important to you and your business or organization, the Barton Marketing Group which specializes in life sciences and agriculture can help get your message to the audiences who need to hear it.