Water Management

Golf course superintendents are responsible stewards of water resources. GCSAA supports collaboration with all levels of government to address water use and quality issues and for golf course superintendents to be involved in the construction of productive public policy related to water issues. GCSAA supports water conservation and water quality protection laws and regulations that are based on sound science and credible data and promote the values of turfgrass and professionally managed landscapes. Sound science includes the recognized/accepted science methodologies and practices for research that follow the high standards of the scientific method. These standards include important investigational attributes and practices such as the formulation of a readily testable hypothesis; the use of systematic and well-documented experimental or analytical methods; the application of appropriate data analysis tools (e.g., statistics and mathematical models) to the data; and the articulation of conclusions that address the hypothesis and are supported by the results. Sound science is also reproducible until there are no discrepancies between observations and theory.

Water availability, water quality, water rights, water use and water affordability are significant issues for golf courses at all levels of government. Some areas of the U.S. require golf courses to use reclaimed, effluent or other nonpotable water sources for irrigation and it is important that there is access to water suitable for use on turfgrass. Proper management and conservation of water resources is an important issue for golf course management. Efficient water use and water quality management on golf courses requires up-to-date technologies, continuing education, scientific research, and sound management practices by golf course superintendents. Innovations at golf facilities include the use of soil sensors, reclaimed water, sophisticated weather instruments such as weather stations, weather sensors, wetting agents, irrigation controls, VFD pump controls, drought- and salt-resistant grasses, water conservation and water protection practices. Golf facilities are making significant capital investments in these water conservation technologies in order to demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship. Many golf course superintendents monitor water quality of streams and groundwater. Golf courses can also have a significant impact on groundwater recharge, especially in suburban areas.

Specific water issues include:

  • Water quality - surface and groundwater protection, nutrient loading, non-point source pollution
  • Water quantity - effluent/reclaimed water, drought, conservation of water resources
  • Water cost - affordability, tiered pricing

GCSAA actively monitors water issues at all levels of government and supports superintendent efforts to deal with water issues by providing resources through educational programs and through direct efforts with legislators and regulators and the media.

In 2006, GCSAA developed a state-specific Water Permitting database for members. The database contains information on permitting requirements for each state.

In 2007, GCSAA launched the Water Use and Conservation Survey, the second survey of the Golf Course Environmental Profile (GCEP). The overall goal of the GCEP is to develop an environmental profile of golf courses. This survey solicited information regarding water use and conservation practices on golf courses throughout the United States. This information will provide baseline data for documenting changes in environmental practices over time, help GCSAA respond to governmental inquiries, and answer the public’s questions about environmental issues. Data from the Water Use and Conservation Survey was released in 2008.

In 2012, GCSAA presented data from the Golf Course Environmental Profile at the USGA Water Summit and several golf course superintendents were featured speakers at the event.

GCSAA affiliated chapters in Florida, Georgia , Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and elsewhere are demonstrating proactive environmental stewardship through the creation and implementation of comprehensive BMP programs and certification.

In 2013, GCSAA and its chapters throughout the country collaborated with state and local officials to develop practical water management public policy on golf courses. Examples: Superintendents in Texas worked with the Texas Water Conservation Advisory Council to update its golf course water management BMPs; the Minnesota GCSA partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Waters, to redefine water appropriation standards; and superintendents in California began serving on the San Diego and Los Angeles water conservation task forces.

In 2015, GCSAA launched the Water Use and Conservation Survey, the first survey of the second phase of the Golf Course Environmental Profile. Results of the Water Use and Conservation Survey were released in 2016.

  • U.S. EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP)
  • Irrigation Association
  • WateReuse Association
  • Waters Advocacy Coalition