While golf courses provide many important benefits, the potential also exists for degradation of ground and surface waters. Fortunately, a number of recent advances make it possible to design and operate a golf course with little aquatic resource impact. However, because these advances are not universally incorporated into the design of every new course, one should not assume that proposed fairways, greens, and tees will be benign. Particular care is needed when new golf courses are proposed near uniquely sensitive aquatic resources such as sole-source aquifers, shallow wells, headwater streams, threatened-endangered species habitat, wetlands, lakes, and other vulnerable waters.
The advances in design can also be used to reduce the impact of existing golf courses. For example, by replanting fairways and greens with hardier grass species application rates of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation water can be cut by a one-half to two-thirds yet still provide a quality playing surface. There are even organic (pesticide-free) golf courses.
In recent years there has been a trend towards converting golf courses to other land uses, such as housing, offices, or other commercial projects. If a course is more than two- or three-decades old then there is a possibility residues of highly-toxic and very persistent pesticides remain. The residues may be sufficiently high to be of concern if the soils are eroded into nearby waterways during the construction phase or if children play on greens converted to residential lawns. Fortunately, soil testing can determine if there is cause for concern on a particular course and, if so, then techniques are available for resolving the concern.
To learn more about how CEDS can help you with concerns about an existing or proposed golf course contact us at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org. The following CEDS publications provide further information on the issues presented above.
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