[No. 18] East Huntington, Pennsylvania: Rains pleat the artificial turf field.Alverton is a small rural village in EastHuntingtonTownship in southwestern Pennsylvania. It is the site of the Russ Grimm field at the SouthmorelandHigh School. The field is ProGrass artificial turf, which was installed in 2006. According to news report on FoxSport.com (31 August 2013), on Friday, 23 August, the Township received two inches of rain in single hour. The water “burrowed under … [the] playing surface. The surface then buckled up, ripped apart and washed away. The long and short of it is that nobody knows what to do.” “Ironically, the Scotties are still able to practice, because there’s a grass practice field right next to the other one.” Source: Tully, Corcoran,“High school football field destroyed,” on FoxSports.com, 31 August 2013, at http://msn.foxsports.com/collegefootball/story/high-school-football-field-with-artificial-surface-destroyed-083013 .
Source: Cameron Smith, “You won’t believe what one hour of rain did to a Pittsburgh turf field." http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/won-t-believe-one-hour-rain-did-pittsburgh-121148615.html . 30 August 2013. “School districts install turf fields to try and protect surfaces from the natural elements. Evidently that logic sometimes backfires."
Amanda Toke of Voorhees and Kat Holley in red of Morristown are surrounded by water as a storm dumped heavy rain on the lacrosse field at Ridge High School. The storm forced the postponement of the girls lacrosse match between Ridge and IHA in Basking Ridge. (William Perlman/The Star-Ledger). http://photos.nj.com/4504/gallery/heavy_rain_pounds_nj_-_may_23/index.html#/9 .
[No. 17] BernardsTownship, New Jersey: Water polo anyone? The following speaks for itself. Source: “Heavy rain pounds NJ, on - May 23 ,” on NewJersey.com at http://s.nj.com/WHyPCua .
[No. 16] Bradenton, Florida: Mulch replaces artificial turf on playground. 22 July 2012. According to a news item in Bradenton Herald (3 July 2012), the Lakewood Ranch staff worked to have parts of Adventure Park, a recreational area in the Greenbrook village, repaired from the damage caused by the by tropical storm “Debby” in last days of June. “The playground area of the park sustained damage when it was covered in standing water by heavy rains …. Artificial turf underneath the playground equipment had to be removed and staff [replaced] it with playground certified mulch. The cost to repair the turf under the equipment [was] estimated at roughly $5,000. Greenbrook received 12.5 inches of rain during the storm, according to Lakewood Ranch staff, and flooding increased erosion and caused turf loss in the park's trail system.” Source: Nick Williams, “Battered Lakewood Ranch park may reopen soon,” in Bradenton Heralnd, 3 July 2012, at http://www.bradenton.com/2012/07/03/4101225/lakewood-ranch-staff-hope-to-have.html .
[No. 16] North Collins Village, New York: Flooding woes blamed on artificial turf field. According to a news report on MetroWNY.com (6 October 2011), on October 4, the North Collins Village Board heard an earful of complaints by residents whose property along Harrison Avenue and beyond have been subjected to ever increasing instances of flooding. “Specifically they claim that the situation has gotten worse since an artificial turf field was installed at the high school three years ago. Scott Dexter, one of those residents, … noted that the environmental impact statement the school completed states that there would be impact on drainage from the project, but without giving any details or plans for remediation. Dexter estimates he has lost at least $7,000 in possessions due to the regular flooding of his basement and property over the years, not to mention that he believes the value of his house has been severely depreciated.” “Gary Wentland noted that twice in the past three years, his swimming pool was flooded, an event that had not happened in the 44 years he had lived there. The only difference was the installation of the athletic field. He estimates his losses from flooding at $20,000.” “Village Trustee Paul Lawton II recounted his participation on the school construction committee and his concerns about drainage from the project. As the project was nearing completion and the proposed drainage improvements were not made, he raised the issue. After that, he said, he was not invited to any more meetings.” Source: Larry Wroblewski, “Athletic field blamed for flooding woes” on MetroWNY.com, 6 October 2011, available at http://www.metrowny.com/news/974-Athletic_field_blamed_for_flooding_woes.html
Credit: Lucy Rieger
[No. 15] Ridgewood, NJ: Flood closes down artificial turf field. According to a news report on Ridgewood Patch (April 17, 2011), “High waters from Saturday [April 16] night into early Sunday morning could spell second act of the controversy dubbed 'Flood Gate'.” “Heavy rains and subsequent flooding on Saturday proves to be an eerie reminder of the March storms that dropped a $31,000 bill on taxpayers. Water was receding by early morning Sunday, leaving games canceled and muck, puckered turf, water, fish and debris at the newly-turfed high school sports fields and other village fields. The district does not yet know the cost of cleanup while a village official said work will be done in-house to clear its fields, without overtime costs.” “The flood gauge maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers details the considerable flooding in Ridgewood's '100-year flood plain' from this weekend–the brook's flood level of 3 feet exceeded 4.8 feet within roughly three hours before receding early Sunday morning. For a sense of perspective, it's slightly greater than the level of flooding on March 11, where six-plus inches of rain and melted snow stormed the flood plain. The turf fields were treated with chemicals due to concerns over sewage water flowing from the Waldwick-stationed wastewater treatment plant last go around (contamination levels were fine, however). Neighbors of the high school fields complained of the cost, $21,800 to taxpayers, and questioned the wisdom of laying down expensive turf in a flood plain. The turf fields were treated with chemicals due to concerns over sewage water flowing from the Waldwick-stationed wastewater treatment plant last go around (contamination levels were fine, however). Neighbors of the high school fields complained of the cost, $21,800 to taxpayers, and questioned the wisdom of laying down expensive turf in a flood plain.” For more on this story, please go to James Kleimann, “Fields Closed After Flood; District's Cleanup Costs Not Yet Known,” on Ridgewood Patch, April 17, 2011, available at http://ridgewood.patch.com/articles/big-floods-again-damage-fields#photo-5686086 .
Photo credit to Rich Formicola. Caption: Last week’s heavy rainfall led to flooding at village and district fields, including Stevens Field, where turf was installed last year.
[No. 14] Ridgewood, New Jersey: The wrath of Ho-Ho-Kus devours artificial turf field. According to a news report in The Ridgewood News (March 17, 2011) consecutive days of rain during the weekend of March 11-13 caused the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook to flood and send “debris, silt and water - possibly contaminated from sewage plant output - surging across the village and school sporting grounds, including the Stevens Field on North Irving Street. “The Ridgewood school district is spending up to $30,000 to clean its two artificial turf fields at Ridgewood High School (RHS), as well as to treat the fields for contamination, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Angelo DeSimone. The village is spending about $9,500 to clean up its turf field at MaplePark, said Tim Cronin, the director of the Parks and Shade Tree Division. All four major fields within flooding area of the brook, including the school's Stadium and Stevens fields, and the village's Veterans and Maple fields, have been closed until further notice.” For more on this story, see Kelly Ebbels, “Ridgewood sports fields flooded from swollen Ho-Ho-Kus Brook,” in The Ridgewood News, March 17, 2011, available at http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/118182419_Ridgewood_sports_fields_contaminated_by_flooding_from_Ho-Ho-Kus_Brook.html .
[No. 13] Warwick, Australia: Rain damages artificial turf field. According to a news item in Warwick Daily News (December 30, 2010), “IT took 10 men and two weeks to lay $300,000 worth of synthetic turf, and only a couple of hours of surging water [on Monday December 27, 2010] to rip it up one year later.” For more on this story, go to
[No. 12] Morgan Hill, California: Game on artificial turf cancelled due to rain! On Wednesday 3, 2010, Lady Acrons of LoveOakHigh School was to take on the Santa Cruz team in Central Coast Section semifinal. The game was cancelled due to standing water on the field at Valley Christian High’s artificial turf field [photo].A disappointed Tony Vasquez, the coach of the Lady Acons, wondered, “How do you rain out a game on [artificial] turf anyway?,” according to a news story in the Morgan Hill Times (March 5, 2010).“This week’s rainfall in the SouthValley wasn’t exactly a monsoon, but it was enough to postpone the Division III girls soccer match and several other marquee games.” Source: “Forecasts further burden city budget,” in Morgan Hill Times, March 5, 2010, available athttp://www.morganhilltimes.com/sports/263684-rain-washes-out-key-prep-games .
[No. 11] East Greenwich, Rhode Island: Rains flood high school’s artificial turf field. According to a news report on My02818.com (November 17, 2009), “The new turf field at East Greenwich High School was flooded again this weekend [14-15 November 2009] after heavy rains on Saturday.” For more of this story, go to Elizabeth F. McNamara, “School Committee To Address Fields Project Change Orders,” on My02818.com November 17, 2009, available at http://www.my02818.com/articles/2009/11/17/schools/doc4b027e479c22b517097581.txt
Providence Journal: Photo courtesy of East Greenwich Public Works Department / Fred Gomes
[No. 10] East Greenwich, Rhode Island: Artificial turf field floods after ½ inch of rain. According to a news report in the Providence Journal (July 29, 2009), “Three episodes of heavy rain this month led to flooding on part of the nearly complete football-track field at the [East Greenwich] high school, and the contractor is working on a plan to fix it.” Here is the rest of the story from the mouth of the people who did the reporting and the talking:
Public Works Director Joseph C. Duarte said the drainage problem is mostly at the perimeter of the football field, which is covered with artificial turf, and the adjacent track.
After the half-inch rainstorm you could measure water 10 feet into the field,” he said. “If my son were to play on that, I would be concerned.”
“It wasn’t acceptable,” said Ernie DiSaia, who is coordinating construction of the field for the School Department.
He said the contractors have agreed to pay for an additional drainage system around the perimeter of the field to solve the problem.
It is not known if the water is pooling because of the design of the project, the ground beneath the turf, or the turf itself, which is supposed to be porous enough to drain more than 1½ inches of water per minute.
“That’s the sales pitch of the turf people — that these fields are playable 24-7, 365 days a year,” Duarte said Monday night after briefing the Town Council on the problem.
The council has the ultimate authority over the project, but the School Committee is coordinating this portion of the field construction.
Duarte said the first time he saw the drainage problem was July 1, after a big storm. At the time, the flooding was dismissed by the contractors because installation of the artificial turf was not complete.
That explanation no longer holds water, he said, because a second round of flooding came after only a half-inch of rain on July 21, when the installation was finished. “A half-inch of rain in 24 hours is not a lot of rain,” he said.
More flooding was seen again after a rainstorm overnight on Thursday. “The middle of the field was so soggy, I had to change my shoes,” said Planning Director Lee R. Whitaker.
One solution that was contemplated was to poke holes in the artificial turf to improve the drainage.
“But that’s like punching holes in this carpet,” Duarte said. “How long is the fabric going to hold its integrity?”
DiSaia, interviewed Tuesday, agreed. “You almost make Swiss cheese out of it. You don’t want to do that.”
He said he sat down with the consultants; the contractor, Fleet Construction Co. of Cumberland, and the area representative of artificial turf manufacturer, Fieldturf, “and I said I would like to see a complete drainage system put around the field so I won’t have this problem again.”
DiSaia said peeling back the edges of the field and doing further work to eliminate the risk of flooding is going to cost “a big bundle of money,” but he has told the representatives, “I’m not going to pay for it.”
“I think they all agreed that this is the best way to do it,” he said.
Whatever the solution, “it’s not going to be a quick fix,” predicted Councilman Henry V. Boezi, a former public works director for the town, during Monday night’s meeting.
Council President Michael B. Isaacs urged the group to give the issue time to be resolved. “It’s too early to know if it’s a real problem,” he said.
But Councilman Richard P. Buonauito said the matter should be tackled sooner rather than later. “Now is the time to get the solution.”
The drainage issue is the second major problem to crop up in connection with the fields.
The first, ironically, involved not having enough water to properly irrigate the grass on the other fields.
Construction began before consulting the Department of Environmental Management, which ultimately prohibited use of an on-site well from mid-May to mid-October.
That problem was resolved with the decision — expected to cost an extra $40,000 per year — to buy the water from the Kent County Water Authority.
[No. 09] Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Match cut short because turf field could not take the downpour.According to a news story in This Day (April 2, 2009), the game between Simba and Azam on Wednesday April 1, 2009, was just going just swimmingly until the end of the first half. Then during the breather (half-time) that “caused swamps of water on the artificial turf and some fans volunteered to sponge the water off the turf to no avail.” The game was called off. Source: Jimmy Tara, “Rain abandons Simba match” in This Day (April 2, 2009), available athttp://www.thisday.co.tz/Sports/5538.html
[No. 08] St. John’s, NL, Canada. Turf field is damaged by the rains.The picture on the left, by Joe Gibbons of The Telegram, shows Newfoundland Soccer Association president Doug Redmond standing in front of the flooded artificial field at the King George V Park in St. John's on Saturday night November 29, 2008. According to the caption under it: “Heavy rain Saturday did significant damage to the facility's synthetic surface. By Sunday morning, most of the water had drained from the field, only to reveal huge bubbles where the FieldTurf surface had been raised.” For more on this story, go to Robin Short, “The pitch became a pool in just two hours: King George V Park damaged by Saturday's deluge,” in The Telegram, December 1, 2008, available at http://www.thetelegram.com/index.cfm?sid=195618&sc=83.
Photo: TTU's Redraiders.com
[No. 07] Lubbock, Texas: Rains flood out turf field at Texas Tech. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. September 26, 2008. Sometimes listening to proponents, promoters and purveyors of artificial turf fields one gets the impression that the story in of Noah may have turned out differently had the Good Lord had the wisdom of creating a planet covered wit artificial turf on top of a hyper-drainage system like the one under the turf field at Texas Tech University’s Jones AT&T Stadium. That field is Field Turf and it was installed in 2006. Seehttp://www.myfoxlubbock.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=7421874&version=3&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=3.2.1(Item No. 41).
By the time the rains on Wednesday-Thursday, September 10-11, 2008, were done, on Friday morning the turf field at TexasTechUniversity had turned into Lake Jones AT&T! So much for the permeability of artificial turf surfaces and their super-absorbent qualities! To quote Wendell Berry, “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
According to a news story on FOX TV 34 (Lubbock), September 12, 2008, “The stadium's pumping system was overwhelmed by the task of removing at least six inches of standing water covering the field,” so fire trucks were called in to siphon off the water.
According to a news story in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (September 13, 2008), At about 10:30 A.M. there were 2 feet standing water at the edge of the turf field, amounting to a total of 800,000 gallons of accumulated water. A 15-member contingent and two fire trucks worked for five hours to suck approximately 300,000 gallons of water from the Jones AT&T Stadium into the city’s drainage system, which end up eventually in YellowhouseCanyon. In the meantime, Tech employees set to “repair a flooded drainage system that usually keeps the playing surface dry.” The Journal also reported that “Contending with excess water at Jones is nothing new. When the stadium was renovated in the late 50s, underground water regularly flooded the field, so officials installed a three-pump system to keep the surface dry.” But “[t]he usually reliable pumps were no match for the non-stop, tropical rains that dumped nearly eight inches of water in some Lubbock spots.” Source: Don Williams, “Game on! Firefighters help drain gallons of water at Jones field,” in Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, September 13, 2008, available at http://www.redraiders.com/?p=1929 .
Photo: FOX TV 34 - Lubbock
[No. 06] Phillipsburgh, NJ: Standing water on 30% of a 2-year old turf field mars soccer game. On Friday, September 12, 2008, VoorheesHigh School (New Jersey) squared off against PhillipsburgHigh School (New Jersey) for the opening game of the Skyland Conference Delaware West Division soccer season. According to a report in The Express Time (September 13, 2008), the teams splashed around on Phillipsburgh’s artificial turf field to a scoreless tie. “The game was played in a steady and sometime hard drizzle on a synthetic field that either doesn’t drain properly or just couldn’t handle the load.” Neither side saw any redeeming value in the game. The Voorhees coach, Joe Tucker, “saw nothing but rain drops and puddles on the field.” “This is a turf field and there is standing water on 30 percent of the field,” Tucker said after the game. The water-logged field slowed the pace of the game to a point that the first shot on goal came 20 minutes into the game, followed by the second one 12 minutes into the second half. “By the end of regulation most ground passes stopped dead in their track,” according to the Express. Source: Tom Mugavero, “Rain puts damper on opening day,” in The Express Time, September 13, 2008, available at
[No. 05] Stony Brook, New York: Tropical storm inundates artificial turf field.StonyBrookUniversity on Long Island is the home of the Seawolves football team. On September 6, 2008, as the remnant of Hurricane Hanna was pouring a few inches of rain on the New York City area, the Seawolves played host to the ElonUniversity’s Phoenix, from North Carolina. The visitors won in a contest that normally would not attract this site’s attention but for the poor performance of the artificial turf that covers the pitch at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The venue opened in 2002. According to a report in News Day (New York), a touchdown by Stony Brook’s Eddie Gowins “was a puddle jumper in near ankle-deep water.” “Gowins rushed 11 times for 122 yards, 72 of those coming on a lake-like artificial turf with 9:31 left in the third quarter.” “It's football, you have to play in rain, snow, sleet, hail,” a good-natured Gowins said. Source: Steven Marcus, “Elon 30, Stony Brook 20: Gowins shines but Seawolves get swamped,” in News Day, September 7, 2008, available at http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/ny-spstony075833038sep07,0,362303.story .
SynTurf.org Note: Daily News also quoted the sensational running back Gowins as saying, “We woke up too late. Next time we have to come out harder from the beginning.” Maybe the Phoenix should first figure ought why the 6-year old turf field flooded. This is not supposed to happen, right? Five years of compaction of the sub-base, some settling perhaps, and compacted infill could rob the field of its much ballyhooed permeability and absorbency. Broken or clogged drainage pipes or even storm water backflow could result in this sort of catastrophe.
[No. 04] Rains ruin IndianaUniversity’s artificial turf field. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 8, 2008. United Press International (UPI.com) reports, “A combination of high winds and heavy rain has damaged the IndianaUniversity football field so badly that the artificial turf may need replacement.” The university’s athletic director has told the Indianapolis Star that the replacement could cost as much as $1 million. “The field was deluged[during the week ofJune 1, 2008], with the wind driving the water under the carpet of artificial grass. The damage included a 10-inch sinkhole in the south end zone,” according to UPI. “Part of the turf just collapsed like one of those landslides you see in California where the foundation just goes out from under it,” according to the athletic director.The university’s football coach said the field was “an incredible sight” Thursday morning [June 5] as water drained away laving sinkholes and lumps behind,” according to UPI.Source: “Storm damages IndianaU. football field,” in UPI.com, June 7, 2008, available at http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/06/07/Storm_damages_Indiana_U_football_field/UPI-69941212889204/.
[No. 03] New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand: Waterworks at Webster Field hockey turf. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 1, 2008.
The Taranaki Province lies on the Tasmanian Sea and it is a very scenic area of New Zealand. In the provincial center, New Plymouth, the Webster Filed houses the area’s premier hockey field. It is turf.
Recently a suspected rupture in a subsurface water pipe has caused enormous damage to the turf field, requiring as many as four months for repairs. The damage at first appeared minimal, but now there is news that the chip seal foundation of the structure may be have been destroyed. According to David Griffiths, the fields’ turf manager, the surface felt spongy when he walked on it as though the seal chip underneath the turf was broken.
This raises an interesting question in two ways: First, what is the implication of this story for fields that are constructed in areas that have hydrological issues associated with wetlands and flood control? Second, what should be done in order to eliminate the likelihood of damage to a field by a breach in the plumbing that serves the field – such as collector and conduit pipes under the turf, and sprinkler and watering systems used to clean and cool the turf fields? What does this say about a municipality that is not even capable of protecting pipes that feed a park’s water fountain from, clogging, breakage and freezing?
Out with the old: where to? Photo: Warwick Smith/Manawatu Standard
[No.02] Plamerston North, Manawatu, New Zealnd: What in earth’s name!? SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 22, 2007. Manawatu fancies itself as the gateway to New Zealnd’s culturally rich and beautiful North Island. A two-hours drive from Wellington, the region boats a combination of rural charm and sophisticated provincial appeal in an area bound by sweeping lanscapes of vallaeys and mountain ranges and coastal vistas. It is blessed with a mild climate, which provides the region with fantastic growing conditions for many of its public and private gardens. It is a perfect setting for an artifcial turf field, no?!
On Thursday, December 6, 2007, one truck after another removedloads and loads of the “spoiled” astroturf from Fitzherbert Park. Located on Fitzherbert Avenue in Awapuni Ward, the sportsground’s facilities include a pavillion, grandstand, hockey fields (turf) and cricket wicket.
Under the auspices of Hockey Manawatu, the hockey turf fields were installed in 2001 with a life expectancy of more than 10 years. It has been cut short because of the failure to seal the carpet properly to the base, which could have been remedied for a cost of $40,000 at the time of its discovery. The authorities chose not to spend that additional sum. And so now the facility is on the hook for the $750,000 cost of removal of the old carpet and replacement. Lucky for Hockey Manawatu, the Palmerston North City Council is the current owner of the fields and it will foot the bill on this project as the lessor. Hockey Manawatu will continue to pay for the annual maintenance of the fields, which amounts to $10-20,000.
According to Peter lamp reporting on this story, “The American company which laid the [original] turf has long gone into receivership so Hockey Manawatu had no recourse there. The new turf will be installed by another American astroturf company with the turf carpet being shipped from the United States via Australia. It is the same material used for the turfs for the Beijing Olympics.”
[No. 1]Flood washes out turf field in New Rochelle, NY. SynTurf.org, Newton, December 22, 2007. In mid-April 2007 a few days of rain resulted in a mudslide downhill onto the artificial turf field at New Rochelle’s Sidelsky Memorial Field, causing the turf to detach from its base in the southwest corner of the field. According to the Parks Commissioner William Zimmermann, “[r]ubber particles that are mixed with the sand were washed away.” While the city has managed to maintain the field for now, it is in shambles: Its surface has wrinkles that cannot be straightened out, according to Zimmermann. Source: Ken Valenti, Federal, state funds will replace damaged New Rochelle Field,” in The Journal News, December 19, 2007, available at http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071219/NEWS02/712190334/1018/NEWS02.