“What’s a super to do?”
Wading Through DEP’s Water Management Act 20 Year Permit Renewal (continued)
By Rick Lawlor, CGCS
By June 1, 2015 the Town of Yarmouth golf courses had drawn three times their annual average for this time of year. Since the snow had melted, Cape Cod hadn’t received a drop of rain and the long term forecast was bleak. The superintendent shut off the irrigation on everything except for the playing surfaces of greens; green surrounds; fairways; and tees.
By August 31 we had drawn more than 3 MG over the permitted amount with two months of irrigation remaining. The playing surfaces on the golf course were good, but the rough area was dormant. There had only been two occasions since June 1 that the irrigation was shut off because sufficient rainfall was received for a 24 hour period. In an unusual turn of events, we learned that numerous Yarmouth resident golfers had made phone calls to MA DEP to complain about the conditions of the golf course. Learning this prompted the superintendent to contact Julie Butler, MA DEP WMA Permit reviewer and set a meeting date. Shortly after this, our Director for the Town of Yarmouth – Golf Division also contacted MA DEP to inquire about policy/regulations and report the conditions that these restrictions created on the town’s income resource. As a consequence of his phone inquiry he received permission from DEP to draw more water than was permitted by their WMA Permit. This is first time in my career that I have ever heard of DEP authorizing a permit holder to exceed their allotment.
So, we turned the water on and it started raining. (Ain’t that a kick?) We also had the meeting with MA DEP to discuss our situation at the Town of Yarmouth golf courses and seek resolution with their guidance. In addition, the town hired an experienced engineering consultant to help navigate through this regulatory quagmire. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, MA DEP is currently in the process of reviewing all of the Cape Cod MA DEP WMA permits to have the authorized withdrawal volume be relative to the average reported draw. However, the average would not be sufficient to prevent another year of conditions such as the one we just experienced. Thus, it was quickly decided that the Town of Yarmouth – Golf Division apply for a new permit with MA DEP for a volume of water more than our historical average… about 25% more.
At the time of this writing the new permit application had just been submitted to MA DEP by our consultant. In addition to handling this part of the process for us, the consultant was valuable to the Town of Yarmouth on a number of items:
- Years of experience dealing with the process and the players.
- Own a large, relative data base.
- Have the expertise to evaluate environmental impacts.
- Know how to provide acceptable mitigation measures.