California Golf Commission
Recent announcements expedite the need for a well written drought emergency plan
The California State Water Resources Control Board recently issued letters to thousands of junior water rights holders on the American, Feather, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Yuba rivers, as well as numerous small streams, to cease pumping water from those sources.
This curtailment notice for junior right holders is rare, hasn’t occurred since 1977 and will have a negative effect on golf courses throughout the greater Sacramento area and Central Valley. Courses will have to rely on backup sources of water and reduce their use in nearly all cases. To date, the state has issued over 4,200 water diversion notices throughout that particular area.
While this curtailment notice has been expected for months, it reinforces the need for golf courses to have an effective drought emergency plan in place to deal with future water right curtailments (possibly including senior and riparian rights holders by June 25) and mandated cutbacks (25-50 percent in some areas) from other water sources.
As a superintendent, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I begin?” The answer is – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are numerous sources and materials available that will help put your plan into place fast and effectively.
While I have numerous plans from GCSAA chapters, superintendents and other reliable resources, I often cite the work done by Pat Gross, director of the Southwest Region of the USGA Green Section. Pat has assembled a step-by-step guide to determine in advance precisely how much water needs to be reduced to satisfy a 10, 20, 30, or >40 percent mandate and develop a strategy to accomplish these goals.
Below are the five steps that Pat recommends in his emergency drought plan:
- Secure an accurate map of the property
- Determine the size of turf and landscape areas
- Determine how much water is used annually to irrigate the golf course
- Develop a prioritized list for irrigation scheduling
- Determine how much water must be reduced for each drought emergency level and where the reductions will be applied
The entire plan, including information on communicating it to key stakeholders, is available online at http://www.gcsanc.com/education/water-issues/gross-developing-7-12-131/. If you have any problems accessing the file online or would like to view other drought emergency plans throughout the country, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward you PDFs of the appropriate materials. Also, make sure to check out the USGA’s new water website at www.usga.org/water. The site went live on June 13 and contains some great information and resources for superintendents.
As the hot and dry summer wears on, many of you may be required to have these plans in place by your local or regional water district/municipality and they are a great tool when working with water regulators.