Chemistry of growth medium and leachate from green roof systems in south-central Texas
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- Aitkenhead-Peterson, J.A., Dvorak, B.D., Volder, A. et al. Urban Ecosyst (2011) 14: 17. doi:10.1007/s11252-010-0137-4
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Installation of intensive and extensive green roofs is becoming popular for reducing runoff from impervious surfaces in many cities around the world. Most studies on runoff quality from green roofs have been conducted in cooler northern climates. We examined the losses and gains of nutrients, cations and selected anions in planted and unplanted growth medium and compared these to initial growth medium (IGM) typically used for green roof modules in south-central Texas. Water extracts of growth medium and leachate from three replicates of unplanted growth medium and three planted species (Sedum kamtschaticum, Delosperma cooperi and Talinum calycinum) were examined. During the first 6 months after establishment we observed high losses of nitrate (25 to 44 mg kg−1), dissolved organic carbon (DOC: 155 to 190 mg kg−1) and nitrogen (DON: 9.0 to 11.2 mg kg−1) and orthophosphate-P (1 to 2 mg kg−1). Average leachate concentrations based on four rain events 6 months after establishment ranged from 0.3 to 6.6 mg L−1 in planted modules and 6.3 mg L−1 in unplanted modules for nitrate-N, 38 to 42 mg L−1 in planted modules and 32 mg L−1 in unplanted modules for DOC, 2.1 to 3.1 mg L−1 in planted modules and 2.1 mg L−1 in unplanted modules for DON and 0.27 to 0.37 mg L−1 in planted modules and 0.40 mg L−1 in unplanted modules for orthophosphate-P. We suggest that after the establishment of green roofs, leachate losses may contribute some runoff concentrations of nitrogen, carbon and phosphorous in urban areas.