Researchers at Purdue University say that water hazards on golf courses can do a lot more than provide a challenge to players. They can remove a host of pollutants and improve water quality.
A study of wetlands built on the university's reconstructed Kampen Golf Course shows that water is trapped and cleaned by golf course grass, wetland plants, sediments, and microscopic organisms. The grass itself traps and uses most of the nutrients and chemicals applied to the course as well those contained in runoff from adjacent areas.
To optimize the usefulness of ponds and wetlands, Purdue scientists discovered that the depth of the water and its speed of flow should be varied in order to encourage a diverse population of microbes. The ponds at Kampen are able to remove a wide variety of chemicals and solids from the water, including atrazine, nitrogen nitrate, ammonia nitrogen, phosphorous, aluminum, iron, and manganese.
The ponds work efficiently to clean runoff not only from the golf course, but also from two highways, a motel parking lot, a gas station, and a development of 200 homes. Golf courses with carefully constructed wetlands can be good neighbors, providing benefits to people and the environment.