Replace on Artificial turf: danger and impacts related to floods and bushfires

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Mitchelton Soccer membership artificial turf discipline broken by flooding of Kedron Brook (Brisbane)

The Queensland and NSW Flood disasters in February and March 2022 highlighted different dangers and impacts that weren’t included in my Literature Review on Synthetic Turf (2021).

The Guardian reported on a soccer membership in north-west Brisbane seeing its $1.5m artificial taking part in discipline broken and tools washed away as flood waters inundated the sports activities fields beside the creek. (Favazzo 2022)

“In a single phrase, it’s devastating,” stated Mitchelton soccer membership technical director Joe Fenech, described the damages. 

I do not suppose Mr Fenech was considering of the microplastic air pollution the artificial turf precipitated as a result of floodwaters. A lot of the sector’s rubber infill and any unfastened plastic fibres can be washed away turning into microplastics air pollution, including to this air pollution on the planet’s oceans.

One of many Soccer Membership delivery containers containing sports activities tools was washed down Kedron Brook an estimated seven kilometres from Mitchelton to The Grange, in accordance with a Facebook report by the Membership.

My literature overview focussed on all of the environmental issues, however it additionally focussed particularly on one proposed pure grass sports activities discipline conversion to artificial turf at Hosken Reserve in North Coburg. It appeared solely at siting points inside that context. However siting of artificial turf is a common downside to contemplate particularly as regards to flood and bushfire occasions.

When it comes to excessive climate occasions, each flooding and bushfire danger must be essential determinants for contributing to triple backside line assessments for Artificial Area siting.

Bushfire concerns

The flammability of artificial turf was beforehand recognized within the Literature Evaluation:

One of many points found throughout analysis was the elevated flammability of an artificial turf pitch. If artificial turf was to go forward Fireplace danger plans would have to be put into place. There’s a danger of sporting followers inflicting fireplace, a danger of vandals making an attempt to start out a hearth on the sector. At the moment the oval is sometimes utilized by individuals to set off fireworks as that is the one native area to take action for close by residents. This might not be acceptable from a hearth danger standpoint, however I’m wondering if  New Years Eve revellers would settle for this restriction? Accompanying the hearth danger is the toxicity and well being danger of smoke from any fireplace for native residents.(Kukfisz, B., 2018)

The report by Ethos City (Fokkema etal, July 2021) for the NSW Division of Planning, Business and Surroundings went into extra element on fireplace danger, particularly for bushfire inclined areas.

Inside bushfire-prone areas, the character of vegetation surrounding homes and buildings has a really robust affect on the diploma of bushfire injury/loss danger to which a constructing is uncovered. It was famous locally workshops that the presence of flamable supplies or publicity to excessive radiant warmth ranges, akin to these concerned within the development of artificial fields, may enhance the chance of adjoining housing or buildings to be ignited in a bushfire. As such, for regional and bushfire inclined communities the place the native oval is usually a muster level, these bushfire concerns have to be thought of if adopting an artificial floor materials.

The report additionally highlighted that “additional analysis is required into the appropriateness of artificial turf in bushfire inclined areas, the place artificial turf could contribute to bushfire danger.”

Flood concerns

Siting of pure turf and artificial turf in flood inclined areas each carry environmental impacts. Many sporting fields in city areas are sited on flood inclined land beside creeks and rivers. This supplies some flood mitigation given propensity for flash flooding from surrounding city exhausting surfaces. 

Excessive climate torrential rain occasions are additionally growing in each depth and frequency resulting from local weather change. The IPCC sixth evaluation  Working Group II report highlighted within the Factsheet for Australiasia that “Heavy rainfall depth is projected to extend.” The Abstract for Policymakers for this report at SPM.B.5.1 recognized “heavy rainfall will enhance compound flood dangers (excessive confidence).”

The Ethos City report identifies that “many points that constrain optimum utilisation of pure turf fields are intensified when they’re positioned in poor drainage or flood inclined areas, ex landfill websites, or the place they’ve a twin objective as stormwater retention basins. The place artificial or pure turf fields are positioned in areas susceptible to flooding, or topic to overland flows throughout excessive climate, there may also be points associated to air pollution of native waterways or bushland with infill supplies or pesticides.”

The Ethos City report recognized that many sporting fields in NSW are constructed on flood inclined land, usually beside creeks in city areas. 

“session undertaken to tell the Research highlighted that many current sports activities fields in NSW have been delivered on flood inclined land, and through excessive moist climate, might be flooded. When an artificial turf discipline is flooded, microplastics and rubber crumb can leach into the encompassing space in excessive concentrations. The artificial discipline might be rendered unusable from flood influence as effectively and a serious refurbishment could also be wanted to revive infill to the sector.”

The report identifies Siting concerns for stormwater, looding, and overland lows which I quote in full:

Many sports activities fields in NSW are positioned on constrained websites, akin to flood plains, low mendacity areas or close to estuaries (i.e. not applicable to be constructed on). Consequently, they’re usually topic to tidal inundation or flooding in periods of heavy rainfall.

Sports activities fields are additionally regularly adjoining to massive impermeable surfaces akin to automotive parks, and subsequently expertise flooding from run-off. Some open area turf areas are additionally designed as flood detention basins, that means they’re designed to quickly retailer extra stormwater so it could possibly drain into the stormwater system or pure creek.

The situation of the inexperienced open area is essential to contemplate for each pure and artificial turf fields. Poorly positioned pure turf fields could grow to be waterlogged and unusable throughout moist climate, though upgrades to the sector (e.g., introduction of sand slit drains, grass swales to divert upstream runoff) can cut back the influence of extra rainfall on turf efficiency .

Whereas artificial turf fields can usually be performed on throughout moist climate, turf specialists, subject material lecturers, environmental and group teams famous within the workshops the problems associated to artificial turf fields topic to overland flows or designed as flood basins.

For instance, if an artificial turf discipline floods, the infill on the sector (e.g., rubber crumb, cork granules), which is mostly lighter than water, can float and be blown across the discipline, which causes a upkeep difficulty, or leads to infill supplies being washed into native waterways and bushland – turning into a supply of air pollution for native ecosystems.

This may be considerably mitigated by elevating the sector and growing a retention base underneath the sector 63 (e.g., Gore Hill Oval, St Leonards) or delivering a “lip” across the perimeter of the sector. Nevertheless, it was famous by subject material specialists that information compiled from current surveys illustrates that regardless of these mitigation measures, infill remains to be being found in surrounding environmental areas.


The injury to the 2 12 months outdated artificial soccer pitch at Mitchelton soccer membership is heartbreaking, however the flood danger for siting of this artificial discipline ought to have been recognized earlier than hand. 

In response to the Brisbane City Council Kedron Brook flood map study from 2014, “Teralba Park sporting fields are all impacted by the 1% AEP flood”.  So the Michelton Soccer Membership sporting fields are all within the 1 in 100 12 months flood zone.

Do not be fooled that these floods occur as soon as each 100 years, the chance of floods is 1% in any 12 months. However flood occasions of this measurement can occur in succeeding years. Local weather change can be weighting the cube with extra intense excessive climate flood occasions, so what was as soon as a reasonably uncommon flooding occasion now’s more likely to occur. 

This incident has destroyed costly sporting infrastructure, precipitated infill to and microplastics air pollution of floodwaters which finally ends up including to plastics air pollution within the ocean. The plastic matting will go to landfill the place it can slowly break down into microplastics on a regular basis emitting methane and ethylene gases, each excessive influence greenhouse gases a lot stronger than carbon dioxide.

Pure turf sporting fields is not going to trigger the identical polluting impact when flooded, shall be simpler to wash up afterwards, and can recuperate from flooding. Pure turf fields are way more resilient. They could trigger air pollution if pesticides and fertilisers are used on them instantly earlier than the torrential rain/ flooding occasion. 

Using Artificial turf for Sporting fields in buhfire inclined areas both in metropolitan or nation cities can be contra-indicated. 

These sports activities fields are sometimes emergency muster factors throughout bushfires. Having crowds congreagate on a flammable floor throughout a bushfire would appear to escalate the well being and fireplace dangers.

There must be oversight put rather than any authorities grants for artificial turf to make sure siting and environmental impacts are absolutely taken into consideration as a part of a triple backside line evaluation of environmental, social and financial advantages and impacts of putting in artificial turf slightly than pure turf sporting fields.

This is a chance for the Mitchelton Soccer membership to revert the artificial discipline sports activities discipline to pure turf. They need to be supported on this, and in changing the flood broken sports activities membership buildings, sheds and tools, by native and state authorities as a part of flood injury help, and constructing group resilience.

Mitchelton Soccer Membership president Gary Inexperienced estimated the restitution and restore of the artificial pitch could also be $500,000, in accordance with this ABC report. Is repairing the artificial discipline actually an financial proposition given the sector is within the floodzone and simply as more likely to be broken in an excessive rain and flood occasion subsequent 12 months, or the 12 months after?


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