Golf Course Management

MAY 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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42 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 05.14 Is it the end of a beautiful friendship? For the past three decades or so, when - ever the upscale city of Naples, Fla., needed somewhere for its treated wastewater to go so it wouldn't have to be dumped into Naples Bay, it called on its many golf courses to help. But a proposed set of new rates and fees for reclaimed water have the area's golf course su - perintendents rethinking the cost of cooper- ation. The city council has already endorsed and is scheduled to vote later this month on a new plan to adjust all water rates to help pay for ex - panding its wastewater treatment system, and the price golf courses and other bulk users pay for irrigating with reclaimed water could rise by anywhere from 4 percent to 58 percent — or more. The cost for area golf courses depends on several factors, says the city's utilities depart - ment director, Bob Middleton. First, the rate for reclaimed water will shift from 41 cents per 1,000 gallons for all bulk users to 45 cents for users without storage lakes and 39 cents for users with storage. Second, the city will add a "base charge" for all customers that have a reclaimed water connection: $500 per month for a 6-inch meter or $800 per month for an 8-inch meter. Third, users located out - side the city limits will now pay a 25 percent surcharge for delivery of reclaimed water. Middleton says the city adjusted all water rates, including rates for reclaimed water, to help fund a $9 million expansion of the sys - tem over the next three years to deliver treated wastewater for irrigation use by all property owners, conserve potable water and reduce discharge into the bay. The increased charges for bulk users of reclaimed water will cover only 27 percent of the actual capital costs Bunny Smith twitter: @GCM_Magazine of construction, with the remainder coming from sewer fees, Middleton adds. According to estimates by Burton & As - sociates, the consultants who prepared the new water rate study for the city, the price that Moorings Country Club pays for its re - claimed water could increase by nearly $500 per month, or 58 percent. "That's a pretty hefty increase," says Dale Walters, CGCS, the superintendent at the 40- acre facility, who notes that higher water rates often force clubs to hike greens fees and cut budgets and staff. For Bill Davidson, CGCS, at the Country Club of Naples, the news is worse: The club, which lies outside the city limits and doesn't store reclaimed water onsite, has two 6-inch reclaimed water meters. When the new water rates, meter base charges and surcharges are added up, the CC of Naples' monthly bill climbs by 125 percent. "The city uses golf courses to store as much water as they can. We've always said yes and taken the water — which we pay for, of course," Davidson points out. "We've had a good, long-standing relationship, but it seems like we have to continually educate every new city council member that they need us as much as we need them." Middleton says, "We depend on the bulk customers because they do take a lot of water, particularly during the rainy season, when others can't. We want to give them a good The cost of water business (water) quality of water — as much as they can take and at a good rate." The superintendents say the quality of the reclaimed water was once an issue that cost their golf courses money to repair damage to turf when saltwater infltrated the pipelines. The city spent $4 million to repair the lines and improve quality, Middleton answers. The rising cost of water for irrigation in Naples refects the rising cost of doing busi - ness at golf courses everywhere, but the super- intendents in the self-proclaimed "Golf Cap- ital of the World" don't think the new rate plan is fair. "We don't mind paying our fair share, but the cost to deliver me a gallon of water is nowhere near the same as delivering it to the average homeowner," Davidson says. "We have to have water, but we're a business, not a cash cow." Bunny Smith is GCM 's senior managing editor. The wastewater treatment plant in Naples, Fla. Photo courtesy of 042-045_May14_Water.indd 42 4/16/14 2:46 PM

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