May 1998

True Grit: Understanding TSS on A Water Quality Report

David M. Kopec, Extension Turfgrass Specialist

Water quality tests typically include measurements of water pH., the concentration of various elements, estimates of the sodium absorption ratio, and an estimate of the total salt load expressed as conductivity--or Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). For TDS, the mineral particles are dissolved in the water itself.

Also on water quality test reports, there is usually a value listed for Total Suspended Solids, or (TSS).  In this case, the suspended particles in the water are measured. The majority of these suspended particles are silt and clay, that do not dissolve in water, but remain floating (suspended) in the water. The suspended solids are hard to see, and are determined in the lab by measuring how much material is left over from a waterbsample amount, after the sample itself evaporates away.

What is the importance of TSS to you as a golf course superintendent ?

It is almost of no concern as far as the turf is concerned. This is true for natural soil areas (fairways, roughs, etc.), and as well for soil greens.

So, how much is how much ?

1. Look at the value in the water quality test report under the heading, TSS.  is usually listed in mg/L [milligrams per liter of water] or PPM [parts per million]. Both of these are the same, since 1 mg/L=1 PPM.

2. Multiply the number value of TSS by 2.7 which is the proper adjustment factor.

3. The result is = the number of lbs. of solids added included in  each acre foot of water (324,00 gallons).  Each time you irrigate the golf course with 12 inches of water, you will add this amount of soil as well.

EXAMPLE: A water quality test shows 22 PPM TSS.

1. 22 PPM TSS.
2. 22 PPM   X 2.7 = 59.4 or 60 lbs of solids.
3. Each time you apply a total of 12 inches of irrigation water, you also add 60 lbs of soil.

Is this bad ? This is equal to about 1/2 of cement bag of soil particles spread over 1 acre of turf.
There are much more silt, sand and clay particles that settle on the turf from the wind. The addition from water is quite negligible. From an irrigation standpoint, TSS along with other particles may require the use of sand filters, dirty water valves, in addition to standard 'Y' strainers.

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