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Letter: Keep city's water away from golf course

Original post made on Jun 15, 2014

If you believe that climate change is a real and serious if not a crisis issue — as I do — and that California is in the grip of a major water shortage for agriculture, industry and residential use, then you have no choice but to reject the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club's request to seek water from the aquifer by drilling in Nealon Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (23)

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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Mr. Engel, if Bedwell Park was used for a public golf course available to all of us taxpayers, would you support their use of the water. Or, are you flat out opposed to golf courses?
The turf grass of golf courses provides many benefits to the environment.
Turfgrass is much more efficient in producing oxygen than trees (not that we don't need trees) and is much more readily "developed". The benefits of the green grass of golf courses include beneficial temperature modification (intercepting solar radiation), entrapment of particulate matter, absorption of pollutants from the air, noise abatement, allergy control (although everyone is allergic to something,(and a very small number of people are allergic to turfgrass), fire retardation and, last but not least, beneficial impact on water quality and quantity.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Jack:

how about something that uses native grasses and plants that don't require irrigation? Watering golf courses in a drought is just stupid. Letting rich folks take water from our aquifers to water a golf course that none of us would be allowed to use is even dumber.

No water from our aquifers for a golf course.


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Posted by Nancy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

California is in a drought and under a mandate to reduce water consumption by 20%. Best practices and state-of-the-art golf course design include drought-tolerant species selection, but equally important is avoiding blanket turfgrass coverage in the first place. It is costly and wasteful of resources to maintain, and it doesn't contribute to habitat or biodiversity. Instead, grassy areas should be presented in the context of other vegetation coverage, minimizing the footprint of the playing area while describing a relationship and interface between turf and local vegetation.

A golf course conceived without concern for sustainability in this day and age, in this area, is wasteful and ignorant of best practices.

Web Link


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 16, 2014 at 1:23 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

No water for private golf courses, period. Especially during a drought.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

County Park closed because of lack of water
Web Link


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Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Sharon Heights deserves the aquifer water just as much as the private residences in the Willows that use it without meters. Sharon is a good citizen of Menlo Park like everyone else. That water will substitute for Hetch Hetchy water which can be put to better use.

The water in the aquifer is not fixed like a lake, it flows. If it isn't used it flows elsewhere and is wasted.

If those against Sharon were serious they would force the Willows residents to install water meters.

Environmentally it makes sense to let Sharon use the aquifer water. But this is more about sticking it to the rich than the environment.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Willows should have water meters just like the rest of us.

If the aquifer water is to be used for anything it should be watering our parks which ALL of us can use.


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Posted by Roger Knopf
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Roger Knopf is a registered user.

Disclaimer: I am not a member of and have no interest in the Sharon Heights Golf Club, I don't live near it, have never been there, and I don't even golf. Everything I know about this I got from reading the recent report on our water supply from our Dept of Public Works, and that is available from the city's web site. From reading that report it seems like a win-win for Menlo Park and the SHGCC. Don't take my word for it, read it for yourself.

SteveC: "No water for private golf courses, period."

Especially during a drought." Does that mean they should not be allowed to buy water at all? You do know that (according to the recent report on water written by the MP Public Works dept and submitted to the Council first week of June) Sharon Heights will pay for the well, pipeline, and ongoing maintenance overhead. They are buying water now, if the well goes in they will still be paying for it. The difference to us is that the water they use will NOT come from Hetch-Hetchy, reducing MP's draw from Hetch-Hetchy by 4.4%.

Menlo Voter: "If the aquifer water is to be used for anything it should be watering our parks which ALL of us can use."

Again according to the report from Public Works, the proposed well would water Nealon Park and one other (the one further up Middle), further reducing the draw from Hetch-Hetchy and paid for by the Sharon Heights Golf Club.

Here is the bottom line: MP buys almost all of its water from the SF water board who brings it in from Hetch-Hetchy. They have the right to reduce the allocation to MP when they need to. If Sharon Heights stops using Hetch-Hetchy water and starts using well water, it means that any reduction from Hetch-Hetchy has less impact on the rest of us. Our parks get watered, and SHGCC pays for it. How is that not a win?

A final note: From the report I calculated that the well would draw only as much as about 5.3% of the margin in our aquifer (recharge in excess of draw of from 1 to 5 million gallons per day). In other words, the amount the well would draw is tiny compared to amount in the aquifer left over from current usage.


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Posted by Roger Knopf
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Roger Knopf is a registered user.

A followup to my post: you may ask "so how does Sharon Park Golf Club benefit?"

Simple: even paying for the well and its ongoing overhead is way cheaper than buying Hetch-Hetchy water.

Next question: "so why doesn't MP get all its water from wells instead of Hetch-Hetchy?"

Many reasons, but a couple big ones are: 1) HH is better quality water (better for drinking), and 2) getting it from the SF water board means that many communities spread out the cost of the pipeline, pumps, etc. I can imagine other reasons but those two come readily to mind.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Golf courses are a ridiculous waste of water whether they be watered with well water or Hetch Hetchy. If they're going to be watered with anything I suppose well water is better, but I don't think we should be wasting water on golf courses.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 17, 2014 at 6:49 am

SteveC is a registered user.

Golf courses are a waste of money period, for a few elite people. Send the water where all people can benefit.


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Posted by facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 11:15 am

It was clear that no one really knows the status of the aquifir or what is tapping into it. The city has no policies and neither does the region about how to protect the aquifir. That is critical information that would help answer questions about risks such as subsidence and capacity, even in drought, to support emergency needs.

It is extremely premature to get into a fight about whether a country club should get any of the water. Let's get some facts first.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 17, 2014 at 12:05 pm

There is an abundance of water now being dumped in the Bay which could be made available for golf course consumption. See: LONG RANGE FACILITIES PLAN FOR THE REGIONAL WATER QUALITY CONTROL PLANT - FINAL August 2012 Web Link. The South Bayside System Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant also has considerable reclaimed water available.


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Posted by Roger Knopf
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Roger Knopf is a registered user.

Facts Please. I like facts. It keeps the discussions rational.

There was a good deal of information about the aquifer in the Public Works document. It is true that there are few policies and little measurement/control of well water use. However they do have hard facts on capacity: the rate of recharge (how fast water is going into the aquifer) and draw/discharge (that which is taken out via pumps as well as natural discharge like springs). From memory, I believe it stated that discharge was around 2.5mgd, but recharge varies from just under 4mgd to almost 9mgd - quite a margin. I don't have the facts but my guess is that new wells are not common (the report seemed to reflect that) and is probably why the Public Works report indicated the likely need to have a better plan (and system of measurement) for managing wells but there did not seem to be any urgency around it.

Subsidence would only result from severe depletion of groundwater, something not very likely from any wells given the capacity per above. The only examples of subsidence offered in an earlier discussion of this was when groundwater from a building site was pumped out in order to dig out a basement - a very local effect, and done at a much shallower depth than wells drawing from the aquifer would be dug to. To affect the overall ground water level via wells, you would have to pump out more from the aquifer than is being added via natural recharge. That would take a very large number of new wells.

BTW, the report indicates Public Works is working towards a plan to build a wastewater reclamation plant to reclaim used water draining from Portola Valley, which will also provide gray water for irrigation and further reducing our need to draw from Hetch-Hetchy.


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Posted by Roger Knopf
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Roger Knopf is a registered user.

Jack, thanks for the link. It was unclear from reading the MP Public Works report whether any of the water from the Palo Alto plant was going to be available to Menlo Park. I am trying to download from the link you provided, unfortunately it is hanging. I will try it again later.

What I also wonder is: how is water from such a plant distributed? They aren't going to add it to the public water supply, cannot be used for drinking. Do they pump it to locations which use it for irrigation or manufacturing?


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Posted by Roger Knopf
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Roger Knopf is a registered user.

SteveC - so you think we should not sell water to the golf course at all? They are after all buying water now.

"Golf courses are a waste of money period, for a few elite people. Send the water where all people can benefit."

I don't golf and I personally think it is a pretty extravagant use of money, but it is their money and if that is how they want to spend it, well...as far as I know this is still a free country and it is still legal to buy water for landscaping irrigation.


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Posted by Roger Knopf
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Roger Knopf is a registered user.

Jack, persistence paid off - the document download seemed to hang but I think it was so darn large! In any case, it answered my main question: the Regional Water Quality Control Plant does not currently serve Menlo Park, so their recycled water capacity is not currently available to us as far as I can tell.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm

About 20 years ago, when I was advocating for 5 public golf courses in the Southern Watershed, Edgewood Park and Pulgas Ridge, I had occasion to speak with a manager at Sharon Heights about reclaimed water. He was frustrated with the delay in implementation of the Master Plan for distribution, and was considering setting up his own company to buy the water and build the infrastructure. I believe that plan included Sharon Heights Golf Course.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm

(2) Recycled Water. Redwood City obtains non-potable recycled water supply from the South Bayside System Authority (SBSA) wastewater treatment plant, located at the eastern end of the Redwood Shores peninsula in the City. As described in more detail in EIR section 10.2.1, Wastewater, Environmental Setting, SBSA operates under a joint powers authority (JPA) with four member agencies: Redwood City, Belmont, San Carlos, and the West Bay Sanitary District (serving Menlo Park, portions of Atherton and Portola Valley, and parts of East Palo Alto and San Mateo County). SBSA produces recycled water (i.e., reclaimed wastewater) that meets California's Title 22 environmental health requirements for disinfected tertiary treated recycled water established by the California Department of Public Health, which enables the water to be used for a variety of applications, including landscape irrigation, industrial processes, cooling towers, and some indoor uses such as toilet flushing.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm

The City's recycled water service area includes the Greater Bayfront/Port of Redwood City, Redwood Shores and central Redwood City areas. The recycled water pipeline distribution system within the Greater Bayfront/Port of Redwood City and Redwood Shores areas was completed in February 2010 and is currently operational. As described in section 10.1.2(e) below, the City's Recycled Water Use Ordinance, adopted in 2008, requires the use of recycled water for certain non-potable purposes.


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Posted by Memories
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

Since when do Willows residents not have water meters?


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 18, 2014 at 11:27 am

Here is a link to RWC's Master Plan for Reclaimed Water:
Web Link
A couple of new public golf courses could jump-start the Program.


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Posted by Chuck
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2014 at 10:01 am

Golf courses do require an enormous amount of water every day, but there are ways how golf courses can deal with the consumption. More and more golf courses across the United States are using recycled water to meet their needs. To read more click on the following link: Web Link


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