With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.
On Thursday state officials announced that even with record-breaking heat throughout June, Californians continued to conserve water, reducing water use by 27.3 percent and exceeding the Governor’s 25 percent mandate in the first month that the new emergency conservation regulation was in effect.
Whereas residential and park usage of water statewide is only four percent of the total amount of water consumed, just one percent of that is used to maintain golf courses.
Still, the grounds keepers of Elk Grove’s two golf courses have heeded the call for conservation of water.
And, they add, it hasn’t been that easy or that cheap. They had to turn to science and technology, though, for some help.
Both Emerald Lakes Golf Club, a public golf course managed by the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD), and Valley Hi Country Club, a private golf facility, have the luxury of having their own wells from which to draw water for irrigation.
|Brown, dry grass are common on area courses|
Urbano said his crew has replaced and renozzled 147 sprinkler heads and have adjusted overall waterflow from 54 gallons per minute to just 18.5 GPM. Plus, of the 54 acres Emerald Lakes spans, 51 acres are now being irrigated.
“We have reduced our water days by 33 percent on the greens, rough and fairways and by 75 percent on our range tee areas,” he said.
At Valley Hi, golf course superintendent Sean McPhedran says he’s completely stopped watering the club’s large driving range.
|Valley Hi CC's Jim Davis (left), Sean McPhedran and Gerry Kirchofer|
“We use a green paint to designate target greens on the range,” he said.
But, the conservation effort at Valley Hi was well underway as far back as 12 years ago.
“It’s been the concern of our members here that we were doing our part,” Valley Hi Board president Gerry Kirchofer said. “We started the sanding program about 10-12 years ago and now we have much better soil, much better roots for the turf.”
Annually, Valley Hi has brought in about 1,000 tons of sand to spread across its grounds to the depth of about 1/8 of an inch. McPhedran now believes the golf course turf is sitting atop two inches of sand.
“Before that we are all clay and the only way to maintain grass was to flood the hell out of it,” Kirchofer explained. “We water a lot less now to maintain turf.”
But, that annual treatment has cost Valley Hi about $50,000 a year, according to McPhedran. However, the course uses five to ten percent less water with a more sandy topsoil.