Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019TX252B

Environmental impacts and runoff dynamics associated with urban landscape conversions

Institute: Texas
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-02-28 End Date: 2020-02-27
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $17,449

Principal Investigators: Benjamin Wherley

Abstract: As rapid population growth continues to occur in urban areas throughout Texas, water conservation has become a key priority for many municipalities. It has been estimated that approximately 30-50% of potable municipal water is used for residential landscape irrigation (Heavenrich and Hall, 2016). While traditionally homeowners have installed landscapes comprised predominantly of turfgrass, many municipalities have recently offered rebate programs in which incentivize removal of turfgrass areas and conversion to alternative landscapes. The goal of these incentives is to reduce outdoor water use. In some arid and semiarid areas, water conserving landscape designs and planting materials have been proposed for use in such landscapes (Spinti et al., 2004; St. Hilaire et al., 2010). However, water losses and their concomitant chemistry through runoff also need to be considered before conducting this kind of landscape conversion. In this project, we converted several existing St. Augustinegrass turfgrass plots to four other commonly used water-efficient residential landscapes. Thus, 5 landscapes are used in this study including St. Augustine lawn, xeriscaping (decomposed granite with native plants), mulch, artificial turf, and sand-capped lawn. In this way, the effects of different residential landscapes on runoff volumes, runoff chemistry, and soil physical and biological properties can be evaluated.