Brookside Golf Club continues efforts to cut water use
|August 2, 2014 - The Star-News analyzes how Brookside Golf Course is responding to California's severe drought.|
|Hugo Guzman, The Pasadena Star-News|
|Despite an enthusiasm for reducing water usage, David Sams, Brookside Golf Club’s director of operations, said due to the size of the course, the club is unable to water its 186 acres of turf during the three days alloted for watering. Keith Birmingham — staff photographer|
PASADENA >> Brookside Golf Club, one of the city’s largest water users, will be unable to comply with the three-day outdoor watering restriction imposed by the City Council Monday night, officials said.
Despite an enthusiasm for reducing water usage, David Sams, the club’s director of golf operations, said due to the size of the course, the club is unable to water its 186 acres of turf during the three days allotted for watering.
“It would make it very, very difficult for Brookside to remain a decent golf course,” Sams said.
To resolve the issue, Pasadena Water and Power has instructed Brookside and three other golf courses in the area to create a proposal that would allow the golf courses to properly water their lawns while still complying with level one restrictions that limit outdoor watering to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Golf courses have always used massive amounts of water, due to their large size and necessity to care for their turf. However, since the drought in 2007, Brookside has been in the process of dramatically reducing water usage, in the interest of saving money, Sams said. The golf course has spent more than $3 million on water conservation efforts, like planting drought-resistant grasses and reducing irrigation during the winter.
Although water prices have risen by 31 percent since 2007, Brookside’s water bill has increased only 15 percent, Sams said. The golf course has saved about $110,000 due to conservation efforts.
Brookside is planning to save 20 million gallons of water per year by removing 20 acres of turf. The biggest project planned is a switch to using only recycled water by 2017, Sams said. They plan to recapture runoff water from the hillside. This would completely free Brookside from the water restrictions, which do not apply to recycled water.
Sams is optimistic about the chances of completing these projects. “The large users of water have to set an example,” he said.
Sams said Brookside remains committed to cutting water consumption by a further 20 percent, as imposed by the level one restrictions.
On Thursday, Brookside met with representatives from three other area golf courses, as well as a representative from the Southern California Golf Association. Together with PWP, the golf courses hope to be able to craft guidelines that are beneficial to parks and other large properties, while meeting conservation goals.
There was also consensus that what the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is doing with its golf courses is an excellent model to work from. According to LADWP spokesman Rick Silva, golf courses working with LADWP have more flexibility in their watering schedule and budgets. They can water on any day, as long as the valves don’t switch open more that three times a week. Many golf courses are going a step further, and not watering their turf at all.
Other golf courses have made similar efforts. Since 2009, Eaton Canyon Golf Club has cut water use by 40 percent, according to Golf Course Superintendent Ron Mahaffey.
Mike Williams, supervisor of the Whittier Narrows Golf Course in Rosemead, was told to reduce the course’s water use by 10 percent. Areas where golfers are unlikely to hit a ball are not watered at all.
“There’s a saying being used in our industry,” Williams said. “Brown is the new green.”
As a result, Whittier Narrows has saved more than seven million gallons of water in June and July of this year.
These are exactly the kind of provisions Sams hopes will come to Brookside. “I feel like the solutions they have would work in Pasadena,” Sams said.
Brookside historically has been a large water user due to its size, but they have been at the forefront of conservation, according to PWP spokeswoman Wendy de Leon.
“Large customers like golf courses are often the first to comply with water conservation procedures,” Leon said.
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