Field-scale monitoring of pharmaceutical compounds applied to active golf courses by recycled water

M. H. Young, R. L. Green, J. L. Conkle, M. McCullough, D. A. Devitt, L. Wright, B. J. Vanderford, S. A. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The scarcity of potable water in arid and semiarid environments has led to the wider use of recycled water for irrigating agricultural fields, parks, golf courses, and other areas. One concern using recycled water as a source of irrigation has been the presence, fate, and transport of pharmaceutical compounds in water that percolates below the root zone of plants; however, very few multiyear field studies have been reported in the peer-reviewed literature. Here, we assessed compound mass flux of 13 pharmaceuticals in the fairways of four golf courses in the southwestern United States during a 2-yr field study. The sites varied by climate and soil type but were similar regarding turfgrass management. The results showed the presence of at least one pharmaceutical compound in nearly all samples collected, although concentrations were substantially lower after transport through the soil. Percent reduction in compound mass fluxes in drainage water was effectively 100% in 22 of 52 cases, 98 to 100% in 27 of 52 cases, and 73 to 94% in 3 of 52 cases (a case is defined as a specific compound measured at a specific site). Mass fluxes migrating below the root zone were calculated as <250 × 10-3 g ha-1 for all compounds and >100 × 10-3 g ha-1 in only two cases. For cases where the majority of the analyses were reportable, all fluxes were <8.80 × 10-3 g ha-1. Carbamazepine, meprobamate, and sulfamethoxazole were most commonly found in drainage water, representing nearly 80% of all reportable detections. This research demonstrates the potential of turfgrass/soil systems to reduce contaminant loading below the root zone and potentially toward groundwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-670
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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