Water Quality, Quantity Issues for Turfgrasses March 10, 2015

The USGA helped sponsor a Council for Agricultural and Scientific Technology (CAST) workshop on water quality and quantity issues in January 2006. The workshop proceedings provide a science-based summary of turfgrass water management in urban landscapes. This information is still useful to help policymaking and regulating agencies understand turfgrass use in urban environments and proper irrigation practices. It also benefits university scientists; water providers; and turfgrass industry representatives by providing a comprehensive summary on water conservation, recycled water, and drinking water protection from pollution. Specific objectives for the workshop were to:


  • Deliver a science-based workshop on the diverse aspects of turfgrass water use.
  •  Summarize turfgrass management research on water quality.
  • Review recycled water use and its effects on turfgrasses and the environment.
  • Identify best management strategies and technologies to enhance the environmental quality contributions of urban turfgrass systems.

There is water crisis due to population growth in areas with inadequate water supplies. Even in areas where water supplies are ample, peak demand drives decisions about providing water to the public. Officials tend to use a simplistic approach eliminating landscape water use by enacting public laws.   

For golf courses, the first step toward water conservation is selecting a turfgrass adapted to the climate in which it will be grown. There is useful research on cultural practices to decrease turfgrass water use. These practices will conserve water and provide quality-playing surfaces. Irrigation systems need proper design, installation, management, and maintenance.   

When it is available, golf courses should use recycled or brackish water for irrigation. Water conservation resulting from this practice far outweighs the potential negative impacts. Nonetheless, recycled or brackish water quality will need appropriate cultural strategies.   

Other water concerns include potential pesticide and nutrient leaching and runoff from turfgrass areas. Healthy turfgrass reduces surface runoff, recharges groundwater, absorbs nutrients, and breaks down pesticides. Pesticide and nutrient runoff from turfgrass are less than amounts from agricultural land.   

A Best Management Practices approach will conserve water and provide quality playing conditions. The USGA has several resources for making wise, water conservation decisions for your golf course. A good place to begin it the USGA’s Water Resource Center.      

Additional Information:   

Golf’s Use of Water Resource Center

Golf’s Use of Water: Solutions for a more sustainable game   

Water Issues Facing the Turfgrass Industry   

To place an order for the CAST special publication Water Quality and Quantity Issues for Turfgrasses in Urban Landscapes, either order from the CAST website ( or call the CAST office (515-292-2125). The hardcopy price was reduced from $75.00 to $35.00   

A $10.00 shipping and handling will be charged on orders of 1 to 19 publications (International - $15.00 for 1 to 19 publications). There is no credit card fee.