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Ecologic International on Golf course maintenance and water recycling

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An area that is receiving increasing attention when focusing on environmental issues and golf courses is the maintenance equipment wash area.

With our country’s current water shortage and resulting water restrictions, this aspect of environmental compliance are appearing at the top of the facility’s to do list.

Nearly every golf course maintains an area or several areas where they wash down their maintenance equipment such as mowers, chemical spreaders and tractors, many of which unfortunately allow the polluted wastewater streams from the wash areas to flow freely into the nearby lakes, streams, ponds, stormwater or sewer.

Some of the pollutants found in the wash residue of maintenance vehicles and turf equipment are: oils and grease, other hydrocarbon products, detergents, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides (H.I.P.), fertilizers, nitrates, lead and copper to name a few.

All of these are potentially dangerous to humans and wildlife when introduced in cumulative amounts to the surrounding environment.

Water regulations in our driest areas now demand that town supply water not be used for washing vehicles or equipment in a fixed location unless it is in accordance with a Water Efficiency Management Plan (WEMP).

The practical solution to meet ideal practice is to find an alternate source of wash water. Existing options include treatment and use of on-site irrigation water, stormwater collection or wash water recycling. The practical approach may be a combination of all three.

Incorporating an engineered, impervious wash pad along with wash water recycling system and stormwater collection into your current maintenance operations are certainly the perfect ways to meet increasing restrictions.

A non-pervious, bunded, concrete wash pad should be designed to collect all wash water from the equipment washing operations. In order for the wash pad to efficiently catch grass particles and retain gross solids, an engineered solution should be obtained from a hydraulic engineer with experience in this field.

Ideally, a closed-loop recycling system which contains specific technologies designed to eliminate the golf course related contaminants (such as H.I.P.) would clearly minimise the damage to the surrounding environment while bringing the course into ideal practice and regulatory bounds.

Caution should be heeded when selecting a recycling system as not all systems are designed for absorption and filtration of chemical and organic contaminants specific to golf courses.

Incorporating an impervious wash pad along with a wash water recycling system into your current maintenance operations is certainly an ideal way to eliminate the escape of pollutants while bringing your course up to par environmentally.

Ecologic International offers some steps to consider now in assuring you are in compliance:

  • Hire a consulting or engineering firm to assist you in determining the EPA requirements for your facility. This consultant should be experienced in the golf industry.
  • If discharging to sewer a Trade Waste Certificate must be obtained. If using town supply water for washing equipment, a Water Efficiency Management Plan should be completed and submitted to your local water authority.
  • Present a plan or recommendation therein to the course General Manager, Board of Directors, or those responsible for the course maintenance budget. It is in the super’s or course maintenance provider’s interest to submit these recommendations, as penalties for illegal discharges or breaches of water restrictions will land on many levels.
  • Recommendations should at the minimum include installing a permanent wash pad with a registered pre-treatment device prior to discharge along with a Trade Waste agreement.
  • To ensure your course is operating at ideal practice a wash water recycling system should be integrated into the wash pad design.
  • Consider the option of running your wash facility independent from town supply and sewer. Use stormwater or treated irrigation water for system top-up. Treat the recycle system discharge to EPA standards and release it to irrigation lakes or ponds.

Environmental compliance is the way of the future and golf course managers and superintendents need to realise that not only are they not exempted from these laws, but they should want to reduce any negative image their club or course might be receiving due to the environmental implications or possible violations or fines for noncompliance, all the while making it safe for their maintenance employees.

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