Saturday, September 27, 2014

Friendship Rain

We finally got some  rain on the first day of the GBWGC 2014 Friendship Cup. The rain started falling around 7:30 AM and when when it finally stopped the Granite Bay Golf Club weather station measured a 1/2" of much welcomed rain. Maybe not so welcome for the Ladies, who were delayed for a couple of hours and had to keep carts off the course for a day, but welcome for fire fighters and drought watchers and really all of us in Northern California. 

This 1/2" that we received will bring  our 2013-2014 (Sept.- Oct.) rain season total to 16.40". This will leave us (7.80") below the annual average for our area of  24.20"and more importantly (14.13") below the cumulative 3 year drought  deficit. Folsom Reservoir will finish off the season slightly lower then it did in 2013. There have been various forecasts predicting a La Nina Weather Pattern forming in the pacific this coming rain season. Currently the The NOAA's National Weather Service is forecasting a "65% chance of El Nino emerging in fall and early winter. Forecasters favor a weak event." Any of us who pay any attention at all to weather forecasting know that the predictions are often inaccurate and realize that we are just going to have to wait and see. That being said, this current drought will change the way all of us in Northern CA are going to look at water use moving forward. Broad bi-partisan support of upcoming Water Bonds and Historic Groundwater Legislation along with substantial movement on the California Water Plan indicate that even when Folsom is full again, it wont be business as usual when it comes to water use for all of us in this area.

Granite Bay Golf Clubs 2014 Conservation Efforts

The Clubs efforts in water conservation this year has been successful for all of the water meters we manage on the property. The San Juan Water District (SJWD) had a mandatory 25% reduction in water use in place since the beginning of the fiscal year. We have purchased 31% less non potable water  for golf course irrigation at this point in the season then we purchased in 2013 along with 31% less potable water used in the Clubhouse and Golf Shop. When we compare our 2014 water use to a State of California Maximum Allowable Water Allocation (MAWA) water budget, our golf course irrigation use will be 25% to 28% lower at the end of the year.

Dog Days of Summer

We have spent a lot of time and effort on irrigation management in response to this drought this year and with the help of slightly milder then normal weather this summer the golf course seemed to get through it pretty well. We didn't experience any major health issues with the turf, however conditions at the end of September are still a little summer worn. We did experience some inconsistencies with putting surface performance which we will continue to work through. Perennial weeds such as Dallas Grass and Knotgrass are weeds that we persistently fight at the end of the season because of their perennial nature to reemerge every year from their roots. We have been substantially more aggressive this summer with late season treatments yielding some success and plan on the same continued sustained battle for as long as it takes us to control & eradicate  these nasty weeds.


Treated Knotgrass fading

Dyeing weeds surrounded by good turf

Another late summer pest we have to contend with is Skunk & Raccoon damage. These night feeding mammals are primarily going after White Grubs as a food source, which we annually treat the golf course to prevent. Most of the damage we are experiencing this year is in the fairways and from skunks. Its standard operating procedure to check for insect activity when Skunk or Raccoon damage is evident and when checking this year we are finding none. Yet the almost nightly damage continues. We displace the skunks that we are able to catch but more just seem to keep coming. I suspect there are a lot of hungry skunks out there with a limited food and water source's due to three years of drought so our course is the best place to forage.

White Grub
Skunk Damage

Upcoming Aerification

We have been aerating and over seeding tees around club events for the past two weeks since mid September. Now that the Friendship Cup has concluded we can finish the forward tees and hybrid bermuda approaches on #14 & #16. Along with completing the over seeding, below is the 2014 fall aerification schedule.

Week of September 29.          Aerification & Over Seeding of Forward Hybrid Bermuda Tees
Week of October 6.                Greens & Fairway Aerification
                                                              10/7/14 - Putting Surface Aerification
                                                              Course Closed
                                                              10/8/14 - Back 9 Fairway Aerification
                                                              Back 9 Closed
                                                              10/9/14 - Front 9 Fairway Aerification
                                                              Front 9 Closed
Week of October 13.              Completion of Fairway & Green Surrounds Aerification
                                                               10/14/14 - Front 9 Closed
                                                               10/15/14 - Back 9 Closed
                                                               10/16/14 - TBD       
Weeks of October 20 &27     Core Aerification of  All Rough Areas
                                                               No Course Closures

Smoky sunrise above a freshly over seeded Granite tee on #10

Friday, February 28, 2014

Recent Storms Provide Some Relief

Recent storms that started on February 6th  measured just over 5" of rain at our GBGC's weather station. More importantly these storms dumped significant amounts of precipitation in the American River watershed and drastically changed the trajectory of a declining Folsom lake level. These series of storms along with a upgraded forecast from persistent drought to normal in the west has water districts breathing a little easier. We are by no means out of the drought or expect to be in 2014 but the San Juan Water District feels they can meet water delivery needs as long as they achieve conservation levels along with getting some normal rainfall through the spring.

I have been getting into the habit of checking out this CA produced graphic daily.

On Wednesday February 26, the elected board of the San Juan Water District (SJWD) unanimously adopted Resolution No. 14-05, Declaring and Implementing a Stage 3 Water Warning. The Stage 3 Water Warning Language requires a reduction of "indoor and outdoor water use by 25%". Other common sense conservation measures become mandatory such as "Water shall be confined to customers property and shall not be allowed to run off to adjoining properties or to roadside ditch or gutter". "Free flowing hoses are prohibited", "Washing streets, sidewalks and driveways are prohibited" and "Restaurants shall serve water only upon request".

Another recent graphic depicting part of the
 big picture the entire state is currently facing

How Does This Effect GBGC Members Who Live in the SJWD ?

A conscientious homeowner asked the district staff at the board meeting how the 25% mandatory reduction would be enforced especially for those responsible homeowners who have already have  been conserving based on the Stage 2 request of a voluntary reduction. The district responded that they are currently not going to be monitoring meters of residents who are doing their  part but watching the large water users and following up on  tips to the district on water wasters. Bottom line is the district needs to achieve the 25% reduction to remain at the Stage 3 level. The Sac Bee confirmed my recollection of the meeting this morning in an article stating that the "agency will enforce the 25 percent conservation order primarily looking for water waste violations". The article continues "If this does not prove effective by April", "the district will begin monitoring water meter data, particularly for those customers who use the greatest amount of water"

How Does This Effect GBGC?

We have been monitoring this drought situation for awhile because as a golf club, we use our share of water. We have an on-going dialog with the SJWD about our shared water conservation goals. Mitch and I have been attending the districts board meetings and have volunteered to serve on a committee the district is forming with industry professionals to share conservation knowledge and techniques that can be shared with the public. We are committed to be part of the solution of the SJWD meeting it's conservation goals along with developing alternative irrigation strategies for the future of the club, both short and long term. 

Another telling story of the drought situation we all face.

What is GBGC's Plan?

We are in the process of installing an industrial air compressor at the cart barn and will start by next week blowing off carts and wiping down with rags and cleaners rather then using water to wash them. At the maintenance yard we have already adopted the same procedure with our mowers and maintenance equipment. 

On the golf course we are putting extra effort into our annual irrigation audit, checking psi, nozzle wear on every irrigation head on the course to assure peak efficiency this coming irrigation year. Extra scrutiny is being placed on irrigation pump station maintenance and irrigation water delivery valve and meters to assure we have accurate data helping us to make sound agronomic irrigation decisions. 

Now that  we  have a solid number to work with we can put the finishing touches on our drought contingency plan. We will look at applying more wetting agents then in the past along with experimenting with some new polymer technology both of which will help with conservation efforts.  More hand watering will be necessary as we will need to apply less water overall but even with all of this we will have to look at reducing turf in areas to achieve the 25% mandated reduction. Bottom line it will be very difficult to wetting agent and hand water our way out of a 25% reduction. Where to reduce turf will be a joint decision with GBGC management and the GBGC golf committees newly formed water use sub-committee chaired by our own Craig Johns who is and expert on these issues. I hope this sub-committee will be a long term thing as I for one believe these water issues will be on-going. This particular drought will end but California water issues and how they pertain to golf and GBGC will persist.

2/28/14 - A Welcome Sight 

It would be nice to capture all of this in our pond
or better yet in Folsom Reservoir. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Upcoming Drought Challenges in 2014

I'm sure we are all aware of the widely publicized condition of Folsom Lake, which of course is the primary source of both potable drinking water and non-potable irrigation water for Granite Bay Golf Club as well as a  large surrounding area. Due to the historic drought conditions many reports are stating that the lake is going down some 350 acre foot a day and is forecasted to be below intake culverts by May. Folsom dam discharges have already been reduced into the American River and regional conservation efforts are under way.

On Wednesday evening 1/8/14 Mitch and I attended a much anticipated San Juan Water District board meeting in which the board approved the recommendations from a Staff Report dated January 2, 2014. The recommendations included a request that "customers refrain from outdoor irrigation" in January, and "If the forecast remains dry in February, initiate a Stage 5 Water Emergency - Long Term, using February as the month to educate customers. If the forecast remains dry in March, begin stringent implementation of all aspects of a Stage 5 Water Emergency." 

a December 10th graphic depicting the historically low level
of Folsom Lake.

Stage 5 Water Emergency is a "long term declaration for water shortage conditions expected for a duration of more then 45 days". This declaration includes many common sense water conservation practices along with prohibition of "Landscape and Pasture Irrigation" and a reduction of "indoor water use by more then 50%." Additionally "Water Crisis / Emergency tiered pricing will be implemented. "

What does this mean for GBGC?

If a Stage 5 Water Alert is declared "there are a significant number of issues that need to be resolved prior to this action." according to the San Juan Staff Report. Some of those issues are "Is commercial irrigation allowed ?" and to what extent. In our conversations with San Juan it was evident that they were very aware of the impact of a total prohibition of irrigating the golf course and the ramifications it would have on our club and business. If conditions persist though, we would have to prepared to reduce  both potable water and irrigation consumption from the San Juan water system like everyone else. This is new territory for both the water district and GBGC which we hope will allow us to collaborate with San Juan to come up with common sense approach for the golf course.

What Is GBGC Doing ?

Golf Course Contingency Planning

We are hoping for the best, which of course would mean  lots of rain but preparing for the worst. Currently long range weather forecaster's have high barometric pressure holding and diverting storms around California through February and early March. Conditions in their models change after that, but questions remain if there will be any storms to come through the newly "opened window".

We currently get a flow of water coming from springs at the lower end of the City of Roseville Water Treatment plant on Barton Road amounting to approximately 170 gallons per minute per our estimation's. This is more then enough to keep our irrigation lake full and fulfill  demands for minimal  dry winter irrigation needs to the course. Unfortunately for us this flow level does not persist into the summer.  In an effort to capture another five to six acre feet of this "free flowing water" we are sand bagging the dam on the irrigation lake near the bridge on #1. This is the equivalent of almost two million gallons of water stored. Additionally we are exploring subsurface water just as all of the water districts in our area are doing.

Surface water  currently entering GBGC via the creek
to the left of #3. 
Finally I am working on a report to present to San Juan detailing how other water districts in similar situations have worked with Golf Courses throughout the State and Country. Drought, water shortages and  water conservation are nothing new to golf,  and many of our fellow Club Corp properties have had to deal with these situations providing many models that can be explored  and adopted for us.

Once all of these items have been examined, and we have an idea of how much water we will  have to irrigate, we can fine tune the details of our drought contingency plan. These details  include  where we can turn water off and re-triangulate irrigation heads to keep essential areas of the course alive during the summer.

Temporary sand bags at the dam at our irrigation lake
facilitates the capture of close to 2,000,000 gallons
of free flowing surface water that we can use for irrigation.

What Is GBGC Doing Now?

Currently we are examining and retro fitting all hoses on the property that are connected to the San Juan potable water system and making sure there are no open end hoses that can flow freely. Additionally we are quickly developing training protocol's for our Employee Partners detailing new procedures for cart and pavement cleaning which are prohibited in a stage 5 water emergency with a hose and water.  The MacKensie Grille and Tilleys will soon be offering drinking water by request only as outlined in a stage 5 emergency as well.  Because of dry conditions we still have to apply minimal amounts of water to certain areas of the course, but as I explained above  none of this water is from the San Juan Water District  but captured and stored in our own holding lake. 

Granite Bay Golf Club is fully committed to the necessary conservation efforts that are needed for all of us to get through this difficult year  as well as communicating those efforts to our members. 

As Always, Thank You For Your Continued Support