On January 10, the local golf community of central and eastern Pennsylvania met with staff of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) to discuss rules and regulations for “consumptive” users withdrawing from the Susquehanna River Basin. Fifteen representatives from the golf industry including golf course superintendents, owners, irrigation specialists and industry representatives were in attendance for the two-hour meeting.
The SRBC’s mission is to enhance public welfare through comprehensive planning, water supply allocation, and management of the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin. In short, golf courses pay the SRBC for water they withdraw from the river basin. The SRBC has a responsibility to protect the water of the basin and make sure there is enough for all users, but also make sure there is enough water emptying into the Chesapeake Bay at an acceptable quality.
The meeting was solicited by stakeholders in the golf industry as a way to touch base with the SRBC, talk about the current state of the golf industry, and share our perspective regarding irrigation withdrawals from the Susquehanna River Basin. The price of water was also discussed ($0.33/1,000 gallons of water). Since golf is a consumptive user (more than 10,000 gallons per day on a 30-day average), each course withdrawing from the basin is required to apply for a docket.
When a docket is close to expiring, the SRBC requires a complete review. New approvals are effective when old dockets expire, and new dockets last 15 years. Original dockets used to be longer, up to 25 years. In order to continue operation, new applications must be submitted six months prior to expiration. Costs to renew dockets can vary greatly. In some cases, a waiver can mitigate testing fees. Otherwise, applicants are required to perform aquifer testing and planning so starting the process years in advance is smart. Consumptive use regulations have been in place since 1971, and in the 90’s the SRBC started an effort to track down users.
The take-home message was this: Many golf courses are up for review as time nears to re-apply. The SRBC advises that conversations should begin five years prior to docket expiration. The industry also raised its concerns with the cost of this re-application for a new docket, as it can be quite a large fee for courses that may already be operating on thin margins.
Other items discussed were drought mitigation plans, the effect of oil and gas industry on the river basin’s water, and golf’s role in re-charging ground water. We hope to host similar meetings in the future.
- Jan. 26: Golf. My Future. My Game. Student event, STEM education in golf, Washington, D.C.
- Jan. 30-Feb. 2: Mid-Atlantic Turfgrass Expo, Fredericksburg, Va.
- Feb. 2: Golf. My Future. My Game. Student reception celebrating STEM education, Chevy Chase, Md.
- Feb. 4-6: GCSAA Golf Championships, Orlando, Fla.
- Feb. 6-9: Golf Industry Show, Orlando, Fla.
- Feb. 22: MAAGCS Winter Education Meeting, Clarksville, Md.
- Feb. 28: Penn State Turf Club meeting