It is clear that an increasing number of golf clubs are now turning their attention to the matter of pollution prevention and legal compliance for their wash-off areas, and none more so, it seems, than around the Yorkshire coast and the Humber.
Believe it or not, causing pollution from wash pads has been illegal since 2009 with the introduction of The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009, The Water Environment (Groundwater and Priority Substances) (Scotland) Regulations and, of course, The EU Water Framework Directive. That is seven years ago and still a number of clubs have not addressed the matter! The Environment Agency (EA) bears the responsibility for policing this legislation and has an armoury of powers they can employ to ensure compliance.
Many clubs take their environmental responsibilities seriously, but some, regrettably, have yet to take action. Reasons for not complying differ, but funding is often the main factor. It's also been said to us that, if forced to act, then that will be the time. What is astonishing is that inspection and compliance enforcement is seen as a lottery; "Not every course will be inspected, the EA do not have the manpower!" Maybe so, but the EA do inspect and your course could be the next one!
Take the case of Filey Golf Club. They had considered upgrading their washpad and obtained quotations, but not proceeded further. All was brought into sharp focus however when, in 2013, the EA paid a visit following the loss of blue flag status for Filey beach. The EA were checking all streams in the area flowing to the sea and one of these streams ran through the golf course. Washings from the greenkeeping facility ended up in this stream and, whilst the club were found not to be polluting, they were strongly advised to take action before any problems developed. Andy Flemmings and his team carried out the work themselves and installed a ClearWater system. The finished job was a credit to them and the EA inspector was most impressed!
Andy's comments were that "the system has been a revelation; it has made the job of cleaning our machinery so much easier!" Pollution is prevented, all the washwater is recycled, water saved and the wash facility is now fully compliant.
There are fifteen clubs in the immediate area that have installed the same recycling system for their wash-off facility; these include Filey, Bridlington Links, Driffield, Cottingham Parks and Hornsea. The first being Forest Pines and the most recent Hull Golf Club.
So what makes these and many more clubs across the land choose a washpad water recycling system?
Faced with the chance of an environmental inspection, all considered action was necessary and saw certain advantages:
• Thousands of litres of water can be saved (500,000 litres for a typical 18 hole course is not unreasonable)
• With a Water Technology List approval on a system, clubs can write off 100% of the cost of an installation against taxable profits. Over £3k is a typical amount
• Wash-off is so much more effective, keeping machinery in a much cleaner condition
• Over sixty percent of the clubs ordering a system from Highspeed Group chose a self-install option, showing considerable cost savings. (Self-install is not an option with all suppliers)
• An extra bonus for more recent installations has been the ability to fund via VAT refunds!
Some clubs have investigated other options, such as separators or reed beds, both of which have limitations. Whichever solution is selected, a dedicated washpad is required (one that is bunded and directs all washings to the system). A separator is only permissible if the water that flows out of it is by a pipe directly connected to a foul sewer; not something many greenkeeping facilities have! If this is not possible then you'd need to discharge to a huge holding tank and pay for this (and the separator) to be emptied regularly. You'd still need a pressure washer and, of course, you'd not save water. So, what seemed a cheap option is not the case.
As for reed beds, they are suitable for sewage waste (organic matter), but have severe limitations when handling hydrocarbons (oil, fuel, grease, etc.). A large reed area would be required, of course, with reed replacement ongoing and time consuming maintenance high with such a system.
So, in view of the above savings, the case for recycling is that it is actually cost effective, fully compliant, future-proof, most efficient and, not only prevents pollution, but saves thousands of litres of precious, and increasingly expensive water!
ClearWater is available either with 'self-install' or 'turnkey' options.
Images: Top - Andy Flemmings at Filey Golf Club chose the self-install option; Middle - The Bridlington Links system - one of fifteen clubs in the area to see the cost-saving benefits; Bottom - Driffield Golf Club