Pros playing in the U.S. Senior Open this week in Sacramento could easily miss that California is in the middle of a historic drought.
The golf course at Del Paso Country Club is a well-watered green – a fact that has at least one nearby resident grumbling.
Bruce Damigo of Arden Arcade said he wonders how the club was able to keep the golf course lush despite watering restrictions on property owners who live nearby.
“Of course I think the (U.S. Senior Open) is good, that’s not the issue; the issue that caught (my) eye was where the water is going, because they’re really cracking down,” he said. “They won’t let you water your lawn; people are letting their lawns die, which is ridiculous.”
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Damigo said he was letting his lawn die, but changed his mind after he observed the verdant turf at Del Paso. “I’m watering the hell out of my lawn,” he said.
Bob Kunz, Del Paso’s general manager, said the club’s water comes from a private well that was built in 1930. “We’re not one of the newbies that because of the drought have gone and dug a well,” he said.
Del Paso Country Club lies in the territory of the Sacramento Suburban Water District. Manager Robert Roscoe said someone called the district office wondering why it is allowing Del Paso to water its golf course while residents are restricted to watering their lawns no more than twice a week.
“The answer is, we can’t enforce; their private well is not covered by our regulations,” Roscoe said.
The State Water Resources Control Board has ordered Sacramento Suburban to reduce its water consumption by 32 percent from 2013 levels. Del Paso’s water use from its private well does not count toward that number.
“If they use a lot of water or no water at all, it does not affect our ability to comply with our 32 percent mandate,” Roscoe said.
The district provides water for Del Paso’s clubhouse and maintenance building. It also supplies the water used to irrigate the decorative landscaping around the clubhouse. But the water used to keep the course green comes from the private well, Roscoe said.
“Wasting water is prohibited by the constitution. So they do not get to pump water unless they are putting it to beneficial use, and to date, nobody has said irrigating a golf course is not a beneficial use of water,” Roscoe said.
Kunz declined to reveal how much water Del Paso used to water the course this summer in preparation for the championship. He said the club is complying with Gov. Jerry Brown’s order for a 25 percent cut in urban water use statewide.
“The reality is, because of the championship, we have reduced our irrigated turf in excess of 35 percent,” he said.
Throughout the remainder of the summer, the club will not water areas outside the playable turf, including where the bleachers, tents and concession areas are for the championship.
The club has adopted a variety of water-saving practices over the years, Kunz said. In 2004, Del Paso underwent a $13 million redesign and renovation that included capping the fairways with sand that allows water to percolate through the soil more efficiently. The club also dispatches about 10 workers each day to hand-water specific areas on the golf course that need attention, rather than using sprinklers.
“There’s 140 acres out there that (have) a variety of micro climates,” Kunz said. “Hand-watering offers the opportunity for us to take care of the areas that need water and not have to water those that do not need water.”