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Water quality characterization of storm and irrigation runoff from a container nursery

Yazdi, M.N.; Sample, D.J.; Scott, D.; Owen, J.S.; Ketabchy, M.; Alamdari, N.

Science of the Total Environment 667: 166-178

2019


ISSN/ISBN: 1879-1026
PMID: 30831361
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.326
Accession: 066554707

Commercial nurseries grow specialty crops for resale using a variety of methods, including containerized production, utilizing soilless substrates, on a semipervious production surface. These "container" nurseries require daily water application and continuous availability of mineral nutrients. These factors can generate significant nutrients [total nitrogen (TN), and total phosphorus (TP)] and sediment [total suspended solids (TSS)] in runoff, potentially contributing to eutrophication of downstream water bodies. Runoff is collected in large ponds known as tailwater recovery basins for treatment and reuse or discharge to receiving streams. We characterized TSS, TN, and TP, electrical conductivity (EC), and pH in runoff from a 5.2 ha production portion of a 200-ha commercial container nursery during storm and irrigation events. Results showed a direct correlation between TN and TP, runoff and TSS, TN and EC, and between flow and pH. The Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) was used to characterize runoff quantity and quality of the site. We found during irrigation events that simulated event mean concentrations (EMCs) of TSS, TN, and TP were 30, 3.1 and 0.35 mg·L-1, respectively. During storm events, TSS, TN and TP EMCs were 880, 3.7, and 0.46 mg·L-1, respectively. EMCs of TN and TP were similar to that of urban runoff; however, the TSS EMC from nursery runoff was 2-4 times greater. The average loading of TSS, TN and TP during storm events was approximately 900, 35 and 50 times higher than those of irrigation events, respectively. Based on a 10-year SWMM simulation (2008-2018) of runoff from the same nursery, annual TSS, TN and TP load per ha during storm events ranged from 9230 to 13,300, 65.8 to 94.0 and 9.00 to 12.9 kg·ha-1·yr-1, respectively. SWMM was able to characterize runoff quality and quantity reasonably well. Thus, it is suitable for characterizing runoff loadings from container nurseries.

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