COURSE CARE
Start The Year Off Right By Developing a Water Management Plan January 6, 2015 By John Daniels, agronomist, Central Region

Developing a water management plan will show your golf facilities commitment to water conservation and may help avoid overly harsh water restrictions in the unfortunate event of  prolonged drought.

Water conservation plays an integral role in the sustainability of golf facilities. The economic and environmental benefits of efficient water use are nothing new. However, every day it seems like golf courses are being asked to do more with less. Greater awareness of golf course water use, stringent water use regulations, recent droughts and greater demand on a limited water supply are making it difficult for many courses to secure the water they have been accustomed to in the past. Even courses fortunate to have sufficient water need to take steps to irrigate judiciously.

If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to make a New Year’s resolution to develop and initiate a water management plan in 2015. A water management plan will allow you to assess current water use practices at your course and help pinpoint areas of improvement. The ultimate goal is to reduce water loss and increase water reuse, thereby reducing overall water consumption.

Begin with a thorough site assessment that provides information on all areas of maintained turf and water bodies throughout the property. Take into account current and future water needs. Then, best management practices (BMPs) can be incorporated to help meet water-conservation goals. Since droughts are inevitable in much of the country, a drought-contingency plan should be included as part of the water management plan. Specific, quantifiable targets for required water-use reductions during drought should be outlined. For example, ask how you could reduce water use by 10, 20 or even 30 percent if mandated. Consider how the irrigation system and course setup would be altered to accommodate a water reduction.

It is important to remember that a water management plan is a living document and should be reevaluated and revised every few years.  Use the plan to help guide turf-management decisions and identify what areas of the irrigation system should be updated. Water management plans can also be used as a communication tool to the membership, local water authority and other regulatory agencies to demonstrate your golf course’s commitment to water conservation. Lead by example and have a document that clearly defines your commitment to responsible water use. It will help ensure the needs of your facility receive full consideration.

For more information on how to develop a Water Management Plan and BMPs relating to water, please visit the Water Resource Center.

Source: John Daniels (jdaniels@usga.org)

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