Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Tiger Tale

By Michael Vogt
Tiger Woods philandering is between him and his wife and quite frankly I don’t believe it should be as much as an issue as it is.

But Woods’ potentially cheating on the game of golf is definitively between him, golf fans, fellow competitors, and Mr. Finchem.

Perhaps Tiger Woods is the Barry Bonds of golf — and Jack Nicklaus is Hank Aaron, anyone up for some “JUICE”?

The latest turmoil in Tiger’s buried lie from the bush came Tuesday when a story surfaced about one of Tiger’s doctors being arrested for providing performance enhancing drugs to elite athletes. It is said that the FBI is investigating Dr. Anthony Galea, who was found with human growth hormone in his bag at the U.S.-Canada border earlier this year.

The PGA Tour needs be proactive on an issue involving performance-enhancing drugs. Commissioner Tim Finchem should immediately announce a full-scale investigation into Tiger’s relationship with doctor Galea. I am not a particular Nicklaus fan but like Hank Aaron, Jack should not have his monumental milestone (18 major victories) surpassed by a juiced-up hormone using cheater.

When top athletes in nearly every other sport (baseball, football, track, swimming, cycling, etc., etc.) have been found guilty of using performance-enhancers we owe to the sport to discover if Tiger is a dope using golfer.

Golf is an honorable sport that competitors should never cheat the game, yea, right. Remember last year when under tremendous pressure Finchem finally succumbed to begin a drug testing policy for PGA competitors.

Obviously, golf has had its head buried in a sand bunker for far too long. If you can gain a competitive edge by taking a drug, you better believe somebody is taking that drug.

The incredible torque of golf swings and high speed pitching baseball windups, when done over and over again; place an enormous amount of strain on all of those moving body parts. Human growth hormones and designer drugs increase the body’s recovery process.

Remember Rodger Clemens, when large money is involved and elite sports figures are near to sports immortality the integrity of the game they once revered is forgotten. While on performance enhancing drugs Rodger Clemens:

  • Won the Cy Young Award, honoring the best pitcher in the league, a record seven times
  • Spent his first 13 seasons with the Red Sox, and won 24 games when the Red Sox won the American League pennant in 1986.
  • Became the first player to strike out 20 batters in a game (April 29, 1986, vs. Seattle) he's the only pitcher to strike out 20 batters twice (Sept. 18, 1996 vs. Detroit.)
  • Is second on the all-time strikeouts list, with 4,672 strikeouts, he only trails Nolan Ryan (5,714)
  • On June 13, 2003, pitching for the Yankees, Clemens won his 300th game and recorded his 4,000th strikeout.
Let’s hope we don’t have to reflect on Tiger’s career as we do with Rodger’s.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Eldrick, I Just Couldn’t Resist!

By Michael Vogt, CGCS
Eldrick Tont Woods (born December 30, 1975), better known as Tiger Woods, is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers and sports figures of all time.

It’s not news - just my commentary, this story and the news swirling around is just too good not to pontificate about.

What a train wreck this kids life turned into! How come superstars with all of the talent, money and opportunity find themselves making the poorest decisions in their private lives?

Do they see themselves as untouchable?
Hello, is anybody home?

Millions of dollars and his squeaky clean reputation have all but evaporated from Tiger’s life. One day the darling of the golfing world, the next day a cavorting cad.

This story is so big nobody knows where it will end. Many women, coast to coast secret meetings, cocktail waitresses and the stories go on and on.

The bottom line, I would suspect history will remember Tiger for all of his great accomlishments on the golf course. I sure hope Mr. Woods' name will not be used in comparison with Arnold, Jack, or Tom not for lack of golf ability, but for lack of common sense.

Hey Lefty, the doors open, here’s your chance!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Full Asset Reserve Study Report, for Private Clubs

By Michael Vogt, CGCS, CGIA

When assembling a long-range plan for properly funding capital projects on the golf course, a club manager, superintendent, and green committee should know when the funds will be required. A sound plan must provide the appropriate amount of funds to meet the needs of each golf course component, feature, or piece of equipment. A stable contribution to a fund that supports capital replacement will guard against the diminishing of the long-term and short-term assets for the golf course. A funding plan should not very wildly from year to year; it is recommended that funding a capital replacement plan be done on a monthly allocated basis to avoid large sudden expenditures that upset a club’s normal cash flow. A reserve study for golf asset replacement is good business and makes good sense.

A Reserve Study for a golf or country club consists of two parts, one: Physical Analysis (visual inspection by a golf course expert, architect, engineer, kitchen expert) that result in a comprehensive inventory of design / equipment elements and a prioritized schedule of future replacement costs; and two: The Financial Analysis that recommends a minimum and stable level of funding into a reserve account over the next 15 to 20 years, so your club has the money for capital projects when it is needed. The well executed Reserve Study becomes the basis of your long-range financial plan to provide continuity and dependability for maintaining a high quality course for years to come.

The report below is a comprehensive study for your examination; I believe you will find the true value of such a study to the club’s long term strategic plans.

Existing Conditions Asset Reserve Study Private Country Club

At clubs today, the need for long-range planning is paramount to each club’s success. Many of the distressed clubs in this economy have poorly planned for future funding of capital and are now paying the price though diminished memberships and facilities that are becoming less than adequate. While day-to-day club and course maintenance is vital, the truly wise clubs have forward thinkers and have a plan for continuous improvement to the club facilities and golf course and its associated buildings and equipment.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Private Golf Vitality

By Michael Vogt, CGCS
What Can Be Done
How interested are you in saving the vitality of your club? Do you think the present day economy will right itself and all things will return to 2004?

Even semi expert management of golf clubs during golf’s golden years kept members happy and sustained sufficient membership numbers to pay the bills. We all remember the day when members waited in line, cash in hand to become a chosen brother of the private club. 5,200 private clubs in the USA in 1990 compared to 4,700 clubs today, and it’s said that a full 20% might be heading for some type of financial difficulties in the days to come.

Top tier clubs have very little to be concerned with, these clubs still enjoy a very stable membership and have the resources to make decisions as the leadership sees fit. The clubs that fall below the top 10% are the clubs that apparently are struggling with capital funding, payroll and even supply purchases during the difficult spring season lag between winter and full play (income) season.

If your team is busy with recession strategies and where and how to economize I would suggest you call in experts that can guide your business though the next few years. Clubs that emerge from this perfect economic storm will become leaner, understand their memberships needs and continue to offer the great service that great clubs have been offering their members for years.

We Can’t Save the Club into Prosperity
We know in business you can’t save yourself into success, simple cuts in payroll and goods will not produce the needed results in the private club world. How many clubs must we witness falling into the death spiral before our collective group of managers and club leaders comes to realize our club is next? The National Golf Foundation has reported that since 2000 golfer participation has fallen off by 16% across the board. I feel we need to stop blaming the lack of time on golf’s loss of participation. Granted, in this day and age we have many choices to make when it comes to leisure time, is four or five hours over the top when it comes to a round of golf; I think not. Golf has just gotten to expensive, period.

I of all people know what it costs to prepare a golf course for play each day. The math is this:

300 members, $950,000 annual operation / maintenance budget = $3,166.00 per member

Loose 50 Members

250 members, $950,000 annual operation / maintenance budget = $3,800.00 per member

That’s just operation of the golf course, not funding depreciation (building and equipment), not accounting for overhead in the clubhouse, losses in F&B, golf car lease expense, and taxes and insurance. In addition the golf shop payroll is never paid for by sales in the golf shop. $263.98 per member per month just to maintain the golf course! Or, if the club does 10,000 rounds, that's $95.00 per round before any other expenses.

Family Friendly
The reason for golf and golf club’s utilization fall – off has many folds. One that gets the most attention is other family functions. While this may be true a family focused club environment has been proven as a hedge against dwindling utilization. When a club can realign it’s demographics to attract a younger average membership and cater to the up and comers the clubs chance for survival increases dramatically.

Fitness facilities are becoming the most requested addition to club renovations. Children’s programs are fast becoming the glue that cements the golf operation together, and family golf programs are sure bets for attacking increase club use. Savvy golf professionals have discovered that untapped market of family instruction, play and competition at clubs can increase use in all aspects of the clubs business.

The safest and most accurate way to find out what makes your club tick is a comprehensive survey of the membership. Only a well executed survey will reveal what the clubs membership really is looking for in your social offerings and facilities.

In summary:
• Poor performing clubs will not survive,

• Clubs today are not and should not be your fathers clubs,

• Family focused offerings will increase revenues, participation and satisfaction,

• Cutting expenses will not fend off disaster; only postpone it,

• Only the finest clubs with a clear mission and vision will thrive in down economies,

• Experts in the club business have the knowledge, ability and proven techniques to help design a clear path through this poor economy.

From golf course maintenance to a reinvention of the club; now is not the time to save your club into bankruptcy. Making bold, well informed changes will increase membership loyalty and utilization, leading to a vibrant club with members for life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What is Business Acumen and how do I Get Some?

By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS

The occupation, work, or trade in which a person is engaged

The ability to judge well; keen discernment; insight

If you possess Business Acumen you should have a keen sense of the entire business you practice.
Here’s the short list on the areas a golf course superintendent should be proficient in:

Budgeting                    Accounting
Public Relations           Agronomy
Writer                         Human Relations
Speech Presenter         Mechanics
Electrical                     Plumbing
Landscaping                Construction

The more business acumen the superintendent possesses the more valuable they are to the club’s business. Decisions made daily will have a dramatic impact not only today and tomorrow but in future years.

Consider a basic comparison: In match play golf, it’s necessary for players to know how match play is scored as well as how to play the game and change or affect the score. In business, financial literacy is the understanding of the score (financial reports) and business acumen is the understanding of how to impact your business (through the nuances of the game and strategic actions) through business decisions.

Over the past year we’ve heard the drum beat “How do we cut costs?” or “How do we increase revenue?” Management and leadership will understand and take into consideration the far reaching impact of today’s decisions and make the important connection between performance and results. Increases in performance / efficiencies will undoubtedly deliver the same or better results without significant increases and perhaps even decreases in resources.

Complex financial decisions should not be myopic. All financial cuts and expenditures for that matter will ultimately be rolled-up into the larger organization. Keen business acumen will enable departmental decision makers to understand how they are tied to the organizations ultimate goals and objectives.

The Main Players

Golf pros are hired mostly because of their ability to play golf, teach golf and cajole with the membership.

Golf superintendents are normally hired for their ability to grow and maintain fine turf in less than perfect environments, although wearing many hats the agronomic expertise is the main reason a superintendent is placed.

The general manager is the business leader at the club. Often introduced into the club business from modest beginnings (food and beverage worker) a GM is charged with the rudder of the clubs financial ship. The general manager must process in very high degree of business acumen. The GM’s ability to teach and share this needed skill to the club’s management team is critical to the sustained success of the club.

Department heads at clubs all over the world can no longer afford to make business decisions in a departmental vacuum. All of the clubs leadership and managers have to be on the same page to ensure the business operates under a shared goal.

Who Needs Business Acumen?

Tired of hearing about Southwest Airlines? Well it’s hard not to use this company as a shining example of HOW to do business.

Founded in 1971 with 38 years of profitability, the airline has been recognized for the motivated employee culture it has created from the highest level of management to the newly assigned baggage handlers on the tarmac.

Certainly there are many factors for Southwest’s success but one deliberate philosophy of management may be the foundation for this organization’s phenomenal success. Southwest involves all employees in the financial results of the company. Furthermore, Southwest trains its employees on how the read and understand these financial reports.

Southwest also stresses that no one person can make the business successful, employees and their daily activities are the companies driving force to keep costs down, saving resources in incremental ways Southwest can keep the costs of doing business low. The airline industries average for cost per seat per mile is now over 10 cents, Southwest airlines are 6.5 cents; that was close to the industry average 25 years ago!

I am definitely not advocating managing clubs like Southwest but what we can learn here is that this business acumen philosophy makes sense for the club business.

Business Acumen Bottom Line

Why shouldn’t the golf pro know how many dollars are spent on fungicide treatments on greens or the superintendent know what the food cost was last month. The clubs overall success depends on the team, not any one department of the team. Like it or not, profitability is not a word that should be banned from the club. Making a profit on golf or F&B can fund needed asset improvements and add value to the club over the long term. We’re all aware of the clubs with superior facilities in a particular market will have a better chance at member retention and recuitment.

Now more than ever clubs and more specifically managers are realizing that when members of the clubs management, professional and labor segments understand the numbers and what they mean to the overall health of the club the club’s short and long term objectives can be obtained.

With widespread understanding and the required business acumen, clubs can have educated, knowledgeable and motivated employees. With this business acumen asset, those will be the clubs that are best positioned to succeed though this private club business turmoil.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction

By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS, Amateur Fly Fisherman

Fly fishing has always been the ultimate escape from the everyday for me. No phones, no TV, no hustle and bustle, just quiet, the river and the fish. Last weekend was the first in a long time that the rivers were at a manageable stage, due to rains this year the river levels have been too high to go fishing. Last Saturday around 4:30 am I jumped out of bed, packed up my waders and assorted fishing gear and drove to my spot on the Current River, about 2½ hours from my home.

Upon my arrival I rigged my high tech graphite rod, (a 4 weight, 6½ footer) just right for those tight quarters and light trout. Waders, boots, my lucky hat and I forged a path to a secluded spot about 3 quarters of a mile from my car.

The first cast of the day I was fortunate enough to hook into a small rainbow, about six inches of picture-book beauty, a quick 5 minute fight, non-eventful release and back to casting over gin clear Current River. That fuzzy little #20 Zebra midge was a good guess for today I thought. Not too many more casts and I struck on another picture perfect rainbow, this guy was a little bigger, no record but eight or nine inches, if it weren’t winter season, catch and release, I might have kept this one!

After a one hour lull in the action I was beginning to think the peak of fishing of the day was over until I sighted a good sized rainbow holding in a small pool about 20 feet from where I was standing in the river. The trout was just holding there, waiting for food to drift by. I moved in his direction as stealthy as I could, I was now wading in water just about waist deep. I took my shot and cast that midge just upstream from him; he took a quick look but no strike! I again casted a quick shot fifteen feet upstream, this time he took the fly and for the next fifteen minutes it was this big thick rainbow and me. He spun off about twenty yards of additional line and I worked him back to me as carefully as possible. After Mr. Big Trout was tuckered out I had him alongside of me, thirteen inches of perfect rainbow trout. I reached down and released him from his bond and carefully let him swim away. This was the best catch of the year for me; a stellar day to be sure! I reeled in the line and was making my way back to the bank to celebrate with a cold beverage. Lost my footing on a slippery rock and fell, face first into the depths of the cold Current River. I lost my lucky hat, my waders filled with water and I suddenly realized my perfect fishing day was over. Cold fifty degree water poured into my waders and soaked me to the bone.

Slogging back to my car I began to thank my lucky stars that I had the opportunity to go fishing at all; even if I lost my lucky hat. I also learned a valuable lesson, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I had to make payment to the fish gods, I really didn’t do anything special to catch that fish, and in fact I was feeling pretty cocky after catching that Mr. Big Trout, so I guess I had it coming. So, I now am a firm believer in every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Life lessons come to us each and every day, I guess this was just one of those days that help to keep me grounded.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get a Handle on Your Labor

The fully functional Excel labor spreadsheet below is available to all, just email me your request. Click on the Email button at the right margin to request your copy.

Hourly Scheduler v2.8sample

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Golf Course Irrigation Audits

By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS, CGIA

Unlike an IRS audit, an irrigation audit can be very beneficial in golf course water savings, power savings, irrigation equipment longevity and result in better all-around turf conditions.

It’s impossible to see where all the water goes after it leaves the sprinkler head and to what degree distribution uniformity is achieved. A well designed and maintained watering system will deliver a uniformed amount of water throughout its irrigation pattern, thus eliminating wet and dry spots. However, even the best sprinkler / nozzle combinations fall short of perfect uniformity. Watering systems with poor uniformity must apply greater volumes of water to an area to achieve the same results as a system with good uniformity, most often resulting in a wet golf course. Sprinklers typically used on golf courses fall into three categories as identified by the Irrigation Association’s Certified Golf Irrigation Auditors manual, these are:

• 80% distribution uniformity (excellent, achievable)

• 70% distribution uniformity (good, expected)

• 55% distribution uniformity (poor)

Golf Course Irrigation System Audits

More golf courses are deciding to perform audits to discover how much and where water is being applied to the course. An irrigation audit is a thorough analysis of the operation of this complex system of water delivery on modern golf courses; a comprehensive audit covers the following:

• Water Supply          • Pumping system(s)          • Piping system     

• Pipe fittings            • Valves                            • Sprinklers

• Control system        • Management practices    • Water distribution audit

Irrigation audits are very effective in documenting irrigation system efficiencies and a well written report can be an excellent tool for communications to members, Board of Directors, committee members and owners to better understand one of the superintendent’s most important and complex tools. Members and owners seldom see the irrigation system; an audit will help them understand the significant investment, maintenance expense and operational cost of one of the largest, complex systems on the course.

Distribution Uniformity

As mentioned earlier, distribution uniformity (DU) is a critical measure of the irrigation systems ability to apply water uniformly to the turfgrass. A value of 100% represents perfectly unformed coverage of water to a predetermined area; however, perfect uniformity never occurs, even with rainfall.

For golf course irrigation audits, DU is generally calculated by identifying the volume of water that is applied to the driest 25% of the test area and dividing it by the average volume throughout the test area. This is also expressed as the Lower-Quarter Distribution Uniformity or DULQ.

DULQ is an important component of the audit and points out the areas of low efficiency in order for a plan to be formulated and begin to address irrigation system flaws, saving water, power and improving playing conditions and turf health through dryer surfaces.

DULQ is calculated though the use of catchments (collection devices), each catchment that is used in the test must have the same opening area or “throat” and must be stable enough that it can not be relocated or knocked down by operating sprinklers.

The proper placement of catchment devices is critical in conducting a water distribution audit. The catchments should be placed in a grid throughout the entire target audit area.

The System Check

Before the catchments are place for the DU test a simple system check is required, these checks include:

Sprinkler check: an activation of each sprinkler in the test zone to inspect and correct any tall grass around the sprinkler. Level and free of physical damage that needs attention.

Nozzle check: make sure proper nozzles are used. Also be certain that nozzles are not cracked broken or otherwise distorded.

Conditions Check: The audit should be conducted under normal system operating conditions. Normal irrigation run times are in the evening when wind conditions are less pronounced, as a rule audits should not be performed with wind conditions that exceed 5 mph.

Pressure Check: The water delivery system should be tested for pressure at the zone being calculated. Pressures checks should be preformed on static and with sprinkler operation and recorded. System pressure can dramatically affect DU. Proper pressures can be adjusted at the head in some cases; the manufacturer’s specifications for nozzle size should be followed.

Document: Sketch a map of the zone to be tested, use an existing drawing if available. Show all sprinklers, nozzle type, rotation arc, model number, operating pressure and pairings if wired to operate together with other sprinklers.

Lay Out the Catchments, Begin DU Test

After the above system test the actual DU catchment test can be performed. The catchment devices should be place in a grid sequence 12 to 15 feet apart.

Run sprinklers in a normal sequence that would simulate an irrigation event for the unique zone being examined. The minimum time prescribed for the DU test is 15 minutes so that the catchments can accumulate a sufficient amount of water for measuring. All sprinklers in the test zone should run for an identical period of time.

Record the volumes on the site map of each catchment and perform the calculations. DULQ can be calculated by the average volume of the lower one quarter of catchments times one hundred divided by the total average of catchments or:

DULQ = Average of Lower Quarter Catchments x 100
Average of all Catchments

• 80% distribution uniformity (excellent, achievable)

• 70% distribution uniformity (good, expected)

• 55% distribution uniformity (poor)

What Does DULQ Really Mean?

DULQ is a percentage that can be calculated into what is referred to as a Run Time Multiplier. This number factor in a given value that indicates you must run your tested portion of the irrigation system a multiple of X to get proper coverage in the driest spots.

These are the Run-Time Multiplier conversions:

Run-Time Multiplier, How is it Significant?

Run-Time Multiplier (RTM) is a calculation used to determine the number of additional minutes sprinklers must run to ensure the driest areas in the sprinkler’s coverage area receives adequate water.

Using the table above, it’s plain to see how areas with poor DU would require more water. An area with a DULQ of 68% would require 24% more water to achieve ideal coverage. Thus, a system improvement of 12 DULQ would yield a RTM of 1.14 or an overall efficiency increase of 10%. That might not seem like much, but take for example if your combine power and water use is $120,000 that would be an annual savings of $12,000. That does not include longevity on pump station run time which could easily be one addition year of service amortized over the life of the station cost, in most cases at least $10,000.

Real Life Precipitation Rate Calculation

The above catchment data can also be used to arrive at the average precipitation rate. The precipitation (PR) rate is expressed in inches per hour in the USA.

       PR=            Catchment Volume Average (in milliliters) x 3.66
             Test Run Time x Catchment Device Area (throat area in square inches)

The factor 3.66 is a constant that converts milliliters to cubic inches and run time from minutes to hours.

Once you have determined average PR, determining station run time is accomplished by multiplying a desired precipitation rate by 60 and dividing it by the PR. An example would be:

If a PR for a given area is 0.71 inches per hour, and a desired application rate is 0.2 inches per hour, the area should be programmed for 16.9 minutes.

0.2 inches per hour x 60 = 16.9 minutes

In addition to this calculation, if the area above had a Distribution Uniformity or DULQ of 64% the run-time multiplier can be used to determine the adjusted area run time.

16.9 minutes x 1.28 = 21.63 minutes

Thus, in the area audited it would require approximately 22 minutes to supply the area of turf 0.2 of an inch of water.

The Irrigation Audit Bottom Line

By auditing the irrigation system a superintendent can find additional savings in water, power, system life; an irrigation audit and a good irrigation system maintenance program always pays for itself.

Select only a Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA); they know golf courses and the workings of a complex golf irrigation system. Also select an auditor that has no affiliation with a company that sells irrigation supplies, an auditor with no bias will insure a proper audit takes place without regard to further his or her business.

After the audit is performed map out an action plan based on recommendations from the CGIA, and let the local community know that the club is concerned with the areas water resources, concerned enough to keep water consumption to a minimum through careful management of water and additionally, the use of electric power.

The overall efficiency of the irrigation system is dependent on the golf superintendent’s devotion to protecting natural resources. The best operated and maintained irrigation system a superintendent can attain is end to that goal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Few Words on Common Sense Risk Reduction

By Michael Vogt, CGCS

The sheer number and variety of risks involved in operating a golf course can be daunting for owners and memberships. These groups will not want to be exposed directly or indirectly to liability by management who has not taken preventative steps to head off the myriad of risks involved in operating a club or golf course. The membership and owners will want to have confidence that course management and staff actively watch-dog potential hazards, and the operation has adequate insurance coverage pertaining to all aspects of the facility's operation. Using common sense prevention can help golf course managers reduce exposure to liability from golfers, guests and the general public.

To proactively avoid risk, educate staff members and conduct regularly scheduled safety reviews. All staff members should be knowledgeable about the dangers inherent in high liability areas such as driving ranges, golf carts, bunkers, water hazards, swimming pools, spas and hot tubs, chemical and fertilizers applications and locker rooms. Enlist the help of the entire staff by reinforcing the need to be alert of weather dangers, lighting inadequacies, underperforming equipment, pool health, and potential environmental liabilities. All staff, but in particular those in food and beverage operations, need to be trained regarding the constraints of liquor liability. Implement practices such as end of day course, pool and driving range patrols. While ensuring that no member is left behind at closing, these sweeps can also serve as a built-in safety review for the next morning's opening. Develop, document and drill staff in the procedures for inclement weather shut-downs, evacuation, fire, flood and other emergency preparedness plans.

Potential liability may also be reduced by proactively reviewing and keeping in compliance with all appropriate permits, licenses and approvals. Perform frequent internal reviews of chemical application permits, errant golf ball easements for courses located in residential areas, endangered species designations, and maintenance of wetlands.

Just as important as continually reviewing risk potential within your operation, it is prudent to periodically review your carrier and their financial stability. In today's turbulent times, carriers have been impacted as well, and any instability could affect an insurer's ability to process or pay claims in a timely fashion. Speak with your agent, review company ratings, and do some research on your own to ensure that your policy is placed with a solid insurer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Golf Course Equipment Wash Pads

By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS

How has something as simple as a golf course equipment wash pad gotten so complicated?

The days of placing a concrete pad at the barn to wash equipment with irrigation water is over. The water from equipment washing in most cases is considered a pollutant. Especially washing spray equipment without containing the wash water is considered criminal in most states.

We all agree water pollution is bad, some may remember the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire and how it helped spur an avalanche of water pollution control activities resulting in the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. As a result, large point sources of pollution on the Cuyahoga and throughout the country have received significant attention since that ridiculous fire in 1969. These events are referred to in Randy Newman's 1972 song "Burn On", R.E.M.'s 1986 song "Cuyahoga" and The Simpsons episode "Lemon of Troy”. Great Lakes Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio named their Burning River Pale Ale after the event. Bad event; when a river catches on fire. It goes to show that a catastrophe can have a far reaching impact.

So do you suppose that wash water from golf courses might be the next song or Simpson’s episode? What if a large fish kill took place in the river a half mile away from the golf course. By coincidences your spray tech just applied a mixture of chlorpyrifos and Mancozeb. That wash water made its way into the river and now the local brew pub has a new microbrew, “Rolling Green Fish Kill Lager”. In the meantime, the local, state and USEPA are taking soil and water samples looking for a finger to point.

Where do your golf course chemicals go, how long do they persist in the soil and water, what liabilities do you and your club have when it concerns water, fish and the environment?

What’s in the water from the golf course wash pad? A. Martin Petrovic, PH.D, Cornell University, did research into this very same issue published in the Green Section Record, September – October, 2005, Evolving Equipment Technology and what’s in That Water. Although site specific to New York state and Suffolk County in particular the data from chemicals present in wash water is telling. Most fertilizers and chemicals present in the wash water were below threshold amounts. However, the build-up of these chemicals overtime could have a deleterious effect. It’s interesting to note that detectable amounts of pesticides (chlorpyrifos being one which is highly toxic to fish) where measured in holding tanks even though these chemicals have not been used at the subject golf courses for years. Also of note, Dr. Petrovic recommends that pesticide equipment not be washed in the same manner that other turf equipment is washed unless a recycling or water treatment system is used.

Now where does that leave the golf course superintendent? To unravel the questions behind the equipment wash pad conundrum we need to understand nomenclature or more specifically point source pollution and nonpoint source pollution and how these sources are treated by federal and state statues.

Point source pollution (PSP) is a single identifiable localized source of pollution. A point source has negligible extent, distinguishing it from other pollution sources. The sources are called point sources because they can be approximated as a geographical point to simplify analysis. On a golf course property I believe it’s safe to admit most pollutants are PSP.

Nonpoint source pollution (NSP) is pollution affecting the environment from diffuse sources, and large geographic areas such as polluted runoff from agricultural areas draining into a river, or wind-borne debris blowing over many miles. NSP may derive from many different sources with no specific solution to rectify the problem, making it difficult to regulate.

The term “Water of the United States” is defined very broadly in the Clean Water Act and after 25 years of litigation it means navigable waters, tributaries to navigable waters, interstate waters, the oceans out to 200 miles, and intrastate waters which are used: by interstate travelers for recreation or other purposes, as a source of fish or shellfish sold in interstate commerce or for industrial purposes by industries engaged in interstate commerce.

The Sixth Circuit of Appeals ruled that residuals of chemical pesticides and biological pesticides are pollutants regulated under the Clean Water Act and has recently stayed the effective date of its decision until April 9, 2011. As a result of the ruling, anyone who applies a pesticide in, over, or near waters of the United States will need to be covered by a permit issued under the Clean Water Act after this effective date. Irrigation return flows and agricultural runoff will not require Clean Water Act permits as they are specifically exempted from the Clean Water Act. EPA plans, before the ruling takes effect, to issue general permits under the Clean Water Act for covered pesticide applications, to assist authorized states to develop their permits, and to provide outreach and education to the regulated community. EPA will work closely with state water permitting programs, the regulated community and environmental organizations in developing general permits that are protective of the environment and public health.

For all of these reasons, we conclude that the statutory text of the Clean Water Act forecloses the EPA’s Final Rule. The EPA properly argues that excess chemical pesticides and chemical pesticide residues, rather than all chemical pesticides, are pollutants. However, the Final Rule does not account for the differences between chemical and biological pesticides under the language of the Clean Water Act. Further, because the Act provides that residual and excess chemical pesticides are added to the water by a “point source” there is no room for the EPA’s argument that residual and excess pesticides do not require an NPDES permit. The “point source” from which the residue originates is easily discernable and necessarily must “be controlled at the source.” See 73 Fed. Reg. at 33,702.

Given all of the above in combination with the EPA’s interpretation that point sources need only convey pollutants into navigable waters to be subject to the Act,” dischargers of pesticide pollutants are subject to the NDPES permitting program in the Clean Water Act. As such, the EPA’s Final Rule cannot stand. Because the Clean Water Act’s text bars the Final Rule we make no determination regarding the validity of the issuance of the Final Rule under the APA, nor do we analyze the relationship between the Clean Water Act and the FIFRA.

Virtually all of the states have some enforceable statutory authority to deal generally with the subject of water pollution and activities on the land that may lead to such pollution. These authorities come in several forms. Many are parts of states' broad water pollution control laws. Provisions in public health and penal codes, typically enforced as petty criminal offenses, may prohibit specific kinds of discharges and substances that detrimentally affect public waters. Statutory nuisance and public health laws provide additional authorities where certain adverse effects can be proven. So does the common law of nuisance. And state fish and game protection laws frequently contain general provisions prohibiting pollution harmful to fish; or imposing liability for fish kills due to pollution events, not limited to point source pollution.

The key issues in each state statute are determining exactly what needs to be proven to demonstrate a "violation" of the law resulting in imposition of a sanction. For example, while various state water pollution control act provisions superficially resemble the federal Clean Water Act's prohibition of the discharge of a pollutant without a permit, unlike the federal Clean Water Act many of these can be applied to nonpoint source pollution because they lack the limitation in which defines "discharge of a pollutant" as "from any point source."

The first issue in assessing the potential applicability of any discharge prohibition to any nonpoint discharge is to determine what materials are included in the prohibition. A law which prohibits the discharge of "wastes" without a permit may, for example, have some utility in regulating discharges of manure from stock raising operations or motor oil, grease and petroleum byproducts from golf course wash pads, but be useless in addressing sediment discharges and be uncertain in addressing golf course runoff containing pesticides. On the other hand, a similar state law prohibiting unpermitted discharges of "pollutants" may be limited by the need to show that the substance discharged either is on a list of pollutants or actually results in pollution of the receiving waters.

Complicating these definitional inquiries is the fact that states frequently do not define the same words in the same ways. But at the same time it raises problems of proof similar to those in state statutes prohibiting discharges of "pollutants" - which an impact on the receiving waters may need to be shown in order for enforcement to occur. The broadest provisions found among the states prohibit the unpermitted discharges of "any substance" or any "organic or inorganic matter."

Another kind of common state statute, frequently found in public health laws, criminal laws, fish and game laws, or state environmental laws, actually lists materials that cannot be lawfully discharged - either at all, or without a permit - into the waters of the state or onto land adjacent to such waters. These lists typically include such specifics as offal, ashes, rubbish, paper, wood, sawdust, sludge, and other specific materials, only some of which are typical of nonpoint source pollution. Obviously, these provisions have only limited utility in the nonpoint source enforcement context. However, some state laws end these lists with a catch-all provision -- such as "anything else of an unsightly or unsanitary nature" or "a substance in any form resulting from domestic, industrial, commercial, mining, agricultural, or governmental operations" or "any other article which might pollute the water."

The second major issue in interpreting the general discharge prohibitions is to determine what conduct is covered by the law. Such provisions usually come in two forms: (1) prohibition of mere discharge (or discharge without permit) without requiring the state to demonstrate any effect on the receiving waters, and (2) prohibitions of discharges that have, or can be projected to have, adverse effects on receiving waters.
Connecticut law illustrates both types. It prohibits any person from discharging or maintaining any discharge of "any water, substance or material into the waters of the state without a permit whether or not such substance causes pollution." At the same time prohibits any person from causing "pollution" of any of the waters of the state.

The typical type (1) prohibition states that the discharge of a material, substance, or waste into the waters of the state or onto the land where it may enter the waters of the state without a permit is unlawful. These provisions are typically the cornerstone of state NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System)  programs for point source discharges, but they may also have some application to nonpoint discharges where state definitional limitations do not constrain such use. Approximately half the states have such provisions in their water pollution control laws without statutory provisions limiting them only to point source discharges.

The difficulties in applying type (1) prohibitions to nonpoint sources largely arise in two ways. First, a significant number of the states with such provisions have explicit statutory or regulatory exceptions for agriculture and/or forestry. While these exceptions remove significant nonpoint sources from the scope of these provisions, the exceptions themselves demonstrate the reach of the provisions over nonpoint source activities that are not specifically accepted. The second difficulty is more complex. Where there is a prohibition on discharge without a permit, but no permit scheme has ever been established, is the prohibition enforceable? A number of states have resolved this issue - either by establishing explicit permit authorities, or alternative authorities, or by case law - but others have not. In general, use of type (1) prohibitions where no permit program exists for nonpoint source discharges is possible, and many states assert the right to use such prohibitions in after-the-fact enforcement actions against polluters. But after-the-fact enforcement in a limited number of cases may not provide the same kinds of environmental benefits as a clear regulatory program that operates in advance of pollution events.

The vast majority of states have a type (2) prohibition that is potentially applicable to nonpoint source pollution. The typical type (2) prohibition does not address the issuance of a permit or the lack thereof. It simply prohibits discharges causing an identifiable harmful effect on the receiving waters. Such provisions typically make it "unlawful for any person to cause pollution of any of the waters of the state" Some of these provisions may spell out what is meant by "pollution," or may require that the state prove that the discharge caused a violation of a water quality standard in order to enforce the provision. Some state laws explicitly prohibit not only discharges that "cause" water quality standards to be violated, but also discharges that "contribute" to such conditions.

The last issue that arises with general prohibition statutes is whether the material actually must enter the water in order for a violation to exist. While type (1) provisions often have such a requirement, a significant number of states, although not a majority, contain provisions that prohibit the placement of materials where they are "likely to cause pollution" or "likely to enter the waters." Some states approach this problem a different way. For example, Connecticut authorizes issuance of an order where any person has created or is maintaining a condition "which reasonably can be expected to create a source of pollution to the waters of the state." We can surmise that wash water from golf course equipment is classified in this explanation.

This section summarizes the general prohibition authorities in the respective states and notes explicit limitations. This summary is intended to illustrate the potential scope of these provisions. Obviously, issues of statutory construction, regulatory interpretations, typical practice, and state institutions will influence the actual application of the provisions. In effect, this section identifies the outer bounds of such authorities as they appear on the books.

It is important to recognize in this brief summary that states have other authorities available to them. Indeed, where states are employing explicit strategies under other authorities aimed directly at nonpoint sources, they may make little or no use of the authorities summarized in this writing. The following summary is organized by state alphabetically.

Alabama requires a permit for discharges of "pollution” but although the requirement is not limited to point sources, the regulations provide that a permit is not required for discharges "from non-point source agricultural and silvicultural activities."

Alaska law provides that "a person may not pollute or add to the pollution of the...water of the state."

Arizona law requires the Department of Environmental Quality to adopt a permit requirement for point sources, and for certain facilities likely to pollute aquifers, and a "program to control nonpoint source discharges of any pollutant or combination of pollutants into navigable waters." Its general prohibition law makes it a criminal offense to (with criminal intent) discharge substances to waters without a required permit or other "appropriate authority," or to violate a water quality standard.

Arkansas makes it unlawful for any person to cause pollution or place waste in a location where it is likely to cause pollution.

California law requires a "report of waste discharge" from any person proposing to discharge "waste." The regional water quality control board must then issue waste discharge requirements (WDRs) - essentially a permit. However, these requirements may be conditionally waived by the regional board. California uses these requirement by first seeking to abate nonpoint source pollution through non - regulatory means, but reserves the power to either grant a conditional waiver (to secure operational changes in a discharger) or to require the report of waste discharge and issue a WDR.

Colorado's water pollution control law authorizes the water quality control commission to adopt regulations relating to any "activity" that "does or could reasonably be expected to cause pollution of any state waters in violation of control regulations or...any applicable water quality standard." With this authority, the state clearly may choose to regulate nonpoint sources of pollution; however, "control regulations related to agricultural practices shall be promulgated only if incentive, grant, and cooperative programs are determined by the commission to be inadequate and such regulations are necessary to meet state law or the federal act."

Connecticut prohibits both the discharge of any substance without a permit, and causing water pollution. Both provisions are potentially applicable to nonpoint sources.

Delaware requires a permit for any activity "which may cause or contribute to a discharge of a pollutant into any surface or ground water." The adopted implementing regulations appear limited to point source discharges to water and land, but the statute is not so limited and Delaware maintains that this authority also applies to nonpoint sources; indeed, Delaware's nonpoint programs rely in part upon this authority.

District of Columbia law expressly authorizes the mayor to regulate and require permits for nonpoint source pollution.

Florida law provides that causing pollution except as provided by law is prohibited and requires permits for discharges of waste that contribute to violation of water quality standards but further provides that agricultural activities (including all "normal and customary" farming and forestry operations), and agricultural water management systems, are authorized and do not require permits.

Georgia expressly requires anyone seeking to "erect or modify facilities or commence or alter an operation of any type which will result in the discharge of pollutants from a nonpoint source into the water of the state, which will render or is likely to render such waters harmful to the public health, safety, or welfare, or harmful or substantially less useful for domestic, municipal, industrial, agricultural, recreational or other lawful uses, or for animals, birds or aquatic life" to obtain a permit.

Hawaii prohibits the discharge of any pollutant to waters of the state except as authorized by law or permit. Hawaii, moreover, has explicit authority to regulate nonpoint source pollution under a provision that allows the issuance of enforceable nonpoint source rules which may include "water quality standards for specific areas, types of nonpoint source discharge, or management measures."

Idaho has very limited jurisdiction over nonpoint sources. It defines "discharge" in its water pollution control act as not including "surface water runoff from nonpoint sources." Another provision states that nonpoint sources are not required to meet water quality standards other than those necessary to support designated uses, unless a TMDL is required to be developed. In the context of TMDLs for high-priority impaired waters, the law provides that "nothing in this section shall be interpreted as requiring best management practices for agricultural operations which are not adopted on a voluntary basis." Indeed, the only direct authority is a prohibition on new or expanded nonpoint activities which "can reasonably be expected to lower the water quality of outstanding resource water," and these sources are entirely exempt from permitting or other regulation if they implement BMPs.

Illinois prohibits any person from causing, threatening, or allowing the discharge of any "contaminants" that would cause or tend to cause water pollution, or that would violate regulations or standards adopted by the Pollution Control Board. While this provision is not expressly limited to point sources, a second provision, which prohibits the unpermitted discharge of contaminants (without requiring evidence of water pollution) is expressly limited to point source discharges.

Indiana law provides that a person may not "cause, permit or suffer to be...drained, allowed to seep, or otherwise disposed into any waters...any organic or inorganic matter that causes or contributes to a polluted condition of any waters" in violation of adopted water quality standards.

Iowa prohibits "disposal" of a pollutant (defined as "waste") by discharge into the waters of the state except pursuant to a permit.

Kansas prohibits the discharge or placement or flowage of "sewage" (defined as any substance that contains human or animal waste products or excrement or any wastes from domestic, manufacturing, or other forms of industry) into the waters of the state except pursuant to a permit. The law also allows the attorney general to take action to secure abatement of "abatable pollution of the surface waters detrimental to the animal or aquatic life in the state."

Kentucky prohibits the discharge of any pollutant or substance that shall cause or contribute to water pollution "in contravention of any rule, regulation, permit, or order or the law further provides that if a violation is traceable to an agricultural operation, it shall be handled under the state's enforceable agricultural water quality act rather than under the stricter water pollution control act.

Louisiana prohibits any "activity" which results in the discharge of any substance to the waters of the state without the "appropriate permit, variance, or license." It also prohibits the discharge of any substance that will tend to cause water pollution in violation of any provision. However, the law also provides that these and other provisions of the water pollution control law "shall not apply to any unintentional nonpoint-source discharge resulting from or in connection with the production of raw agricultural, horticultural, or aquaculture products."

Maine prohibits the discharge of any pollutant without a permit, but explicitly provides that this provision is not violated by any discharge that is in compliance with an approved agricultural erosion and sediment control plan. Maine also prohibits any violations of water quality notwithstanding any permits or exemptions, but requires establishment of a mixing zone before enforcement of this provision against any source may occur.

Maryland law prohibits the discharge of a pollutant without a permit or other authorization and allows the imposition of permit requirements for activities that could cause or increase the discharge of pollutants.

Massachusetts prohibits discharge of a pollutant without a permit, 21 Mass. Gen. L. 42, but agricultural and silvicultural nonpoint source discharges are exempted by regulation.

Michigan prohibits the direct or indirect discharge of any substance that may be injurious to health, safety or welfare, uses of waters, riparian lands, and fish and wildlife. Although this section is codified in a chapter of the code entitled "point source pollution control", Michigan law provides that chapter headings are not part of the act and are not to be used to construe the scope of the act.

Minnesota has a general requirement of notice to the state of water pollution events and requires reasonable attempts by the discharger to minimize or abate pollution caused thereby. Furthermore, by regulation, Minnesota has provided that "no sewage, industrial waste or other wastes shall be discharged from either a point or nonpoint source into the waters of the state in such quantity or in such a manner alone or in combination with other substances as to cause pollution."

Mississippi prohibits pollution of the waters of the state or placement of wastes where they are likely to cause pollution, defining "pollution" as contamination not "in compliance with a valid permit," but the regulations provide that no permit shall be required for agriculture and silvicultural nonpoint source pollution.

Mississippi has another provision, not linked to permitting definitions, prohibiting the discharge of any "wastes" which reduce water quality below adopted water quality standards.

Missouri law prohibits causing pollution or placing any water contaminant where it is reasonably certain to cause pollution; it also prohibits the discharge of water contaminants which reduce the water quality below adopted water quality standards if not otherwise subject to effluent regulations.

Montana law makes it unlawful to cause water pollution or place any wastes "where they will cause pollution of any state waters." However, the law exempts materials placed in connection with activities permitted by any other state or federal agency, 75-5-605(a), and expressly exempts from state non - degradation requirements those nonpoint sources existing on April 29, 1993, all new nonpoint sources that follow "reasonable land, soil, and water conservation practices," land application of manure, and use of agricultural chemicals if done in accordance with an agricultural ground water management plan.

Nebraska law makes it unlawful to cause water pollution or to place any wastes in a location where they are likely to cause water pollution, or to discharge wastes that reduce the water quality in the receiving waters below adopted water quality standards.

Nevada's general pollution prohibition authority is expressly limited to point sources However Nevada statutes also allows the state to prescribe controls for nonpoint sources ("diffuse sources") to prevent degradation of high quality waters, but not for "normal...farming practices". And allows regulation of nonpoint sources existing on Jan 1, 1979 that are "significantly causing or adding to water pollution in violation of a water quality standard" and for new nonpoint sources where they impair high quality waters.

New Hampshire prohibits discharge of a waste without a permit, but also has a provision making it unlawful for any person to dispose of wastes in such manner that water quality standards will be violated.

New Jersey law prohibits discharge of pollutants without a permit or as otherwise authorized, N.J. Stat. Ann. 58:10-6; and also prohibits the placement of "deleterious" substances into the waters or where they can find their way into such waters, but exempts from the latter provision chemicals used in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, and livestock if done in an approved manner.

New Mexico's water pollution law does not itself contain a prohibition applicable to nonpoint source water pollution, but rather authorizes the water quality control commission to adopt regulations "to prevent or abate water pollution in the state" and to require permits. Thus, the availability of any enforceable authority depends entirely on the promulgation of specific regulatory requirements.

New York prohibits the direct or indirect discharge of any substance that "shall cause or contribute to" a condition in violation of water quality standards.

North Carolina prohibits the discharge of wastes and certain other discharges without a permit, of perhaps greater immediate utility in the nonpoint context is its authority to issue "special orders" to "any person...responsible for causing or contributing to any pollution of the waters of the state within the area for which standards have been established."

North Dakota laws make it unlawful to cause water pollution or place any wastes where they are likely to cause water pollution.

Ohio's water pollution law prohibits causing pollution or placing any wastes where they cause pollution except in accordance with a permit, but exempts agricultural and silvicultural runoff and earthmoving activities subject to regulation under Ohio's nonpoint source control programs administered by soil and water conservation districts and local governments. The Ohio law also exempts runoff of excrement from domestic and farm animals, only some of which is subject to regulation under the referenced programs.

Oklahoma law makes it unlawful for any person to cause water pollution or to place wastes in any location where they are likely to cause pollution. This provision is expressly interpreted to apply to nonpoint sources.

Oregon law prohibits any person from polluting waters of the state or placing any waste where it is "likely to escape or be carried into the waters of the state, and from discharging wastes into water if such discharge reduces water quality below the adopted standards.

Pennsylvania prohibits the discharge of any substance resulting in pollution, Pennsylvania also has a provision prohibiting discharge without a permit, which it has used for nonpoint sources, but the provision applies only to industrial wastes.

Puerto Rico authorizes its state agency to forbid any discharges that do not have the appropriate permit. Also expressly prohibits direct or indirect discharge of any substance capable of polluting or leading to pollution in violation of water quality standards.

Rhode Island prohibits the placement of any pollutant in a location where it is likely to enter the waters, and the placement of any solid waste or debris in the waters; but it only prohibits the "discharge [of] any pollutant" from a "point source."

South Carolina prohibits the direct or indirect discharge, seepage, or drainage of any substance into the waters of the state except in compliance with a permit.

South Dakota has a similar provision. In addition, any discharge of wastes (defined as any polluting "substances") that results in degradation of water quality is also prohibited.

Tennessee has a general prohibition against any discharge causing "pollution" except as properly authorized, but the law does not apply to any nonpoint source discharges from "any agricultural or forestry activity."

Texas prohibits the discharge of waste, including agricultural waste, into or adjacent to any waters, and prohibits any other act which causes pollution of any waters, except as authorized. The law exempts agricultural and silvicultural discharges in compliance with a certified water quality management plan.

Utah prohibits causing pollution that constitutes a menace to public health and welfare, is harmful to fish or wildlife, or impairs beneficial uses of water, and prohibits placement of waste where there is "probable cause" to believe it will cause pollution.

Vermont prohibits discharge of any substance without a permit, but expressly exempts the "proper application of fertilizer to fields and crops."

Virginia law prohibits the discharge of wastes or any "noxious or deleterious substances" or the pollution of waters without a permit as well as the placement of any substance which may contaminate or impair the lawful use or enjoyment of waters of the state except as permitted by law.

Washington prohibits the discharge of "any organic or inorganic matter that shall cause or tend to cause" water pollution and permits are required for disposal of material into the waters of the state. However, the law does not authorize the adoption of a permit system for nonpoint sources or imposition of penalties for pollution arising from forest practices conducted in compliance with the state's forest practices law.

West Virginia's general water pollution control law appears not to provide for the regulation or prohibition of nonpoint source discharges.

Wisconsin laws authorize the state agency to issue orders for the abatement of nonpoint source pollution if the source is "significant" and impairs water quality. The provision has limitations on its use to control pollution caused by animal waste and pollution from an agricultural source in a priority watershed, where other planning and implementation tools are to be used first.

Wyoming makes it unlawful to "cause, threaten or allow the discharge of any pollution or waste into the waters of the state" except as authorized by permit. The prohibition has been held to apply to polluting activities for which no permit was available.

The general prohibition authorities summarized above are typically used by states not to carry out a detailed regulatory approach to point and nonpoint source water pollution, but rather as "back-up" authority to other programs intended to control such pollution, or to deal with egregious cases in the absence of other programs.

In addition to the general prohibitions found in most states' water pollution control laws, virtually every state has other - usually older - provisions prohibiting certain kinds of discharges deemed detrimental to the public health or welfare, fisheries, drinking water, or other interests identified by the legislature.

Various statutes specifically list detrimental substances whose discharge into the waters of the state is prohibited. These provisions are found most often in public health laws, criminal laws, and fish and game laws. West Virginia has a typical provision, making it an offense "to place, deposit, dump, or throw, or cause to be placed, deposited, dumped or thrown, any litter, garbage, refuse, trash, can, bottle, paper, ashes, carcass of any dead animal or part thereof, offal, or any other offensive or unsightly matter into any river, stream, creek, branch, brook, lake or pond, or upon the surface of any land within one hundred yards thereof, or in such location that high water or normal drainage conditions will cause any such materials to be washed into any such waters." This study identified similar provisions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, and California, although undoubtedly other states have such provisions.

Approximately half the states' fish and game codes contain provisions that prohibit the discharge of various substances that are, or that may be, harmful to fish. These provisions do not require proof of injury to fish, but focus on the nature of the substances discharged. This is usually clear from the nature of the prohibition, but it is spelled out explicitly in some laws - for example, "it is not necessary to prove that the violation has actually caused the death of, or damage to, any particular fish."

For example, Kentucky's law provides: "No person shall place or cause to be placed in any public waters any substance that might injure, interfere with, or cause the waters to be unfit for the support of wildlife including fish.” Arkansas law provides that, "it shall be unlawful for any person to deposit, throw, drop, or discharge in any manner in any of the waters of this state any substance, liquid, or gas or anything else that will or does intoxicate or stupefy or in any manner injure any fish therein, whether done for the purpose of catching or taking fish or not." Rhode Island law provides: "No person shall place, deposit, or explode any substance injurious to the health or life of a fish in any stream or fresh water pond" Far more narrowly, Vermont prohibits the deposit of "lime, creosote, coculus inducus or other drug or poison destructive to fish." Given the principles of statutory construction discussed earlier, it may be harder to apply this provision to many forms of nonpoint source pollution.

State fish and game laws can also provide regulatory authority over pollution discharges in some cases. For example, Massachusetts has an unusual provision that allows the state fisheries agency to determine that a "prohibition or regulation of the discharge of waste or material from any source" is needed for particular inland waters because of the value of the fishery, leading to action by the pollution control agency.

Many states also have provisions that prohibit fish kills or that allow enforcement responses to fish kills. Although some of these are simply broadly written prohibitions on killing fish without a valid fishing license, many others clearly proscribe nonpoint source and other discharges that result in harm to aquatic life.

About a fourth of the states have older provisions specifically aimed at preventing or criminalizing the pollution of a drinking water supply. In Oklahoma, "No person...shall pollute or permit the pollution of the water supply of a municipality, or any stream, pond, spring, lake, or other water reservoir or groundwater aquifer, which is used or which is being held for use as a water supply by a municipality." Minnesota statutes require, "No sewage or other matter that will impair the healthfulness of water shall be deposited where it will fall or drain into any pond or stream used as a source of water supply for domestic use."

Virtually all states have statutory provisions that provide for the abatement of nuisances, and many have additional public health provisions that may have some application to particular instances of nonpoint source pollution. The common law of nuisance also applies in every state. Nuisances are of basically two types: public nuisance and private nuisance. Public nuisance is the creation of a condition that causes injury to the public welfare, while private nuisance impairs the use and enjoyment of property. Nuisance is not a fault-based doctrine, but requires only proof of the adverse condition. Thus, even a condition that does not violate any law or regulation may still be abatable as a nuisance. Remedies for public nuisances are typically injunctions for abatement, or authority for a public entity to conduct summary abatement of the nuisance and recover its abatement costs, and/or the imposition of fines - reflecting the historic origins of public nuisance as a quasi-criminal action.

Public nuisance actions may be brought by the state or, often, by any affected entity or person, while private nuisance actions are brought by adversely affected land owners.

Nonpoint source water pollution that impairs the usefulness of waters, adversely affects human health, or impairs the rights of others may be abatable under state nuisance laws. Two types of nuisances are generally addressed by state statutes - first, and more important for most nonpoint sources, are state provisions declaring water pollution to be a nuisance. Such legislative declarations limit the need to prove particular deleterious effects in order to secure relief. Second, are state provisions that provide for the abatement of conditions dangerous to public health or otherwise noxious or offensive to the senses.

Alabama law combines both approaches in one provision: "Any and all pollution is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and, if it creates, or is about to create, a health hazard, shall be subject to immediate control of the commission by order or injunction." This provision both declares water pollution a nuisance making it subject to injunctive relief by the state or any person, and declares that particular kinds of water pollution (health hazards) are subject to certain kinds of administrative relief and summary abatement action. Pennsylvania law provides a typical, but especially complete, version of the "water pollution as nuisance" provision: "The discharge of...any substance into the waters of this Commonwealth, which causes or contributes to pollution...or creates a danger of such pollution is hereby declared not to be a reasonable or natural use of such waters, to be against public policy and to be a public nuisance" and "shall be abatable in the manner provided by law or equity for the abatement of public nuisances." Minnesota's provision is given additional detail in state regulations, making its applicability to nonpoint discharges explicit: "No sewage, industrial waste or other wastes shall be discharged from either point or nonpoint sources into any waters of the state so as to cause any nuisance conditions, such as the presence of significant amounts of floating solids, scum...excessive suspended solids, material discoloration...undesirable slimes or fungus growths, aquatic habitat degradation, excessive growth of aquatic plants, or other harmful effects."

Some laws more directly reflect the historic petty criminal nature of water pollution as a nuisance. In California state statutes "Every person who...dumps or causes to be dumped, any waste matter into any bay, lagoon, channel, river, creek, slough, canal, lake, or reservoir, or other stream or body of water, or upon a bank, beach, or shore within 150 feet of the high water mark of any stream or body of water, is guilty of a misdemeanor" and imposes a fine of $100-1000. A few states have even older provisions, like Kentucky, which makes it a violation for any person to place or cause to be placed "in any stream, dam, pool or pond" any substance that renders the water "unfit for use or produces a stench," punishable by fine of not less than $10 nor more than $100 and/or imprisonment for 30 days to 6 months. Ohio law states "No person shall...corrupt or render unwholesome or impure, a watercourse, stream, or water." This is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days and/or $500.

General nuisance law is typified by Minnesota "Anything which is injurious to health, or indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, is a nuisance." Some states have made the connection to public health abatement explicit. For example, Kansas's Secretary of Health and Environment and county boards of health can examine all "nuisances, sources of filth and causes of sickness"..."When such source is found to exist on any private property or upon any watercourse in the state" they have the power to order the owner to remove the nuisance within 24 hours.

Most general discharge prohibitions under state water pollution control laws are enforceable by administrative orders, civil injunctions and civil penalties in the $10,000 to $25,000 range, criminal sanctions and other sanctions.

What are the costs to the courses in violation? More than the abatement cost or a fine is the bad reputation of the club in the community.

Just last year I was told an exclusive private club opened in on the east coast, all was going as planned except the maintenance facility was not yet complete. A worker at the course rinsed off the sprayer on a flat piece of ground near a running creek. Just a portion of the chemical made its way into the water causing a fish kill. The neighbors and adjoining landowners reported the fish kill the authorities. The superintendent was replaced immediately. The course is now required to test all water bodies on the course each month and report to the state fish and wildlife authorities at a cost of $4,000.00 per year. The club must also remediate all of the soil at the washing site, the total cost for the one-time washing of a chemical sprayer near a running creek, $400,000.00.

It’s just a matter of time before legislation is specifically enacted to regulate wash water from golf course equipment. As it stands now, April, 2011 most golf courses should have some type of permit from local or state authorities to release trace quantities of pesticides if you do not have a water recycling system. Contact your insurance company, the club’s attorney and your local or state authority on your need for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit.

As you now know the Clean Water Act is just the tip of the iceberg, Rep. James Oberstar, Democrat, Minnesota, sponsored a bill that this spring made it through the house (H.R. 1262) to augment the CWA with an additional $1.3 billion in funds for additions and enforcements. I am sure by the time the bill makes it through the senate it will include other amendments to beef up protection for the waters of the country as well as other “enhancements”.

Build a wash pad, drain to a holding tank or recycling equipment, or get a NPDES permit for discharge into local sanitary sewer. Do not let the wash water drain into a stream, pond, storm sewer, or any body of water! If possible drain equipment wash water to an area that has no chance to flow into a body of water, over an area of vegetation is best. When cleaning spray tanks and equipment clean all related parts in an out of the way turf area on property. The left over spray is legally considered pesticide waste. Waste is what is left over from the intended propose of the original spray mix. The ideal is to recycle all wash and rinsate if possible and I believe it’s just a matter of time before state or federal regulations mandate all golf courses to capture all water use to clean equipment. When capturing wash water it can be diluted to use as make-up water for subsequent spray mixes. Of course don’t empty unused spray formulations anywhere unless diluted and broadcast sprayed in an out of the way turf area.

Old fashion leach pits and septic-type water treatments may yield sufficient results. Capturing and reusing wash water seems to be the best alternative to an expensive recycling system. Compressed air clipping removal is also an alternative way to keeping equipment clean. Dry clippings can often be composted and used on property as beneficial mulch.

On new installations or renovations to a wash pad it is advisable to install test wells to sample water if your Turf Care Center is in a low water table area. The testing will provide baseline statistics and should be proof of your proper care of chemical pesticides. Soil samples can also be sent to labs to discover just what chemical pesticides are in the soil.

If a Bureaucrat wants to make a name for themselves or make your life difficult I believe they have all of the means as explained above. The media loves sensational topics and negligent polluters are great copy. Be proactive and seek out what your local or state government wants your golf course to do pertaining to compliance issues. Be proactive not reactive!