Turf Battles: Finding the right mix
Newport News Waterworks manages 12,000 acres of watershed property throughout the lower Virginia Peninsula to protect its reservoirs. They have personnel who also manage 70 acres of turf around Waterworks facilities, from water treatment plants to water towers, pump stations, reservoir facilities, and more.
Reducing Turf Usage
To increase environmental protection and to reduce impacts to it, the utility’s Environmental Management System Team looked for ways to reduce turf areas. This program also reduces gas need to fuel mowers and gas fumes into the air.
Turf has been reduced by 9% at the Lee Hall complex through the following:
Three and a half acres of turf have been replaced with trees. Another environmental benefit is that trees release oxygen into the air, absorb carbon dioxide and provide habitat for wildlife.
About 2 acres of turf were allowed to return to tall, native grasses near the old Lee Hall Water Treatment Plant, providing habitat for small animals. Tall grasses also discourage geese from occupying these areas since their predators like to hang out in the grasses.
Three separate areas totaling about 2 acres are currently maintained in wildflowers. In addition to enhancing the aesthetics of the site, wildflowers provide habitat for butterflies and bees.
In addition to turf reduction, nutrient management plans have been developed for 53 acres of turf. Each plan is based on a soils analysis to ensure the proper management of nutrients and the protection of water resources.