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City to eliminate 16 acres of golf course turf

As part of the consent agenda in their July 11 meeting, the City Council approved a contract for professional services associated with a coming redesign of the irrigation system at the Boulder City Municipal Golf Course.

In addition to a redesign of the irrigation system, some non-functional turf will be removed in the name of water conservation.

The contract for $338,920 with LAGE Design Inc. will cover project management services, preliminary design services, concept development, final design services, and supplemental services.

“No schedule has been established yet, but the firm will keep nine holes open during the work. Impacts to golfers and residents will be considered and minimized as much as possible,” said Utilities Director Joe Stubitz.

In addition to an overall need for water conservation in the Mojave, the need for this particular project was driven by recent actions taken by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

“In May 2022, the SNWA approved a resolution to reduce golf course water budgets from 6.3 acre-feet per year per irrigated acre to 4.0 acre-feet per irrigated acre effective in 2024,” Stubitz explained in an email.

Notably, the water situation at the municipal course is substantially more dire. At a current use of 7.09 acre feet of water per year, the course is already about 10% above the old standard. In order to meet the new standard, which takes effect next year, water use at the course will have to drop by just shy of 43%.

Stubitz continued, “In fiscal year 2022, Boulder Creek Golf Course used 7.09 acre-feet of water per irrigated acre or 0.79 acre-feet of water over the SNWA water budget of 6.3 acre-feet of water per year per irrigated acre. Starting in January, courses will be restricted to 4-acre feet (about 1.3 million gallons) per year.” One acre foot is 325,851 gallons of water. The amount of water that will have to be cut from use at the course is almost 1 million gallons per year.

The amount of turf to be removed is substantial.

“Last year, City Council approved the removal of 721,000 square feet of grass at Boulder City Municipal Golf Course,” said City Manager Taylour Tedder. “This is turf that sits outside the edges of areas needed for play. This removal represents 13% of the water usage at the municipal course.”

But even the removal of three-quarters of a million square feet of turf will not be enough to meet the standard set to take effect in 2024.

“Further work is necessary to update the irrigation system and other improvements to meet the allowable four acre-feet per irrigated acre water budget for golf courses that goes into effect in 2024,” Tedder said.

The entire project has a projected cost of $6.5 million. Of that , $2 million is from the city’s 2024 capital budget with the other $4.5 million coming in the form of ARPA (American Recovery Plan Act) federal funding.

Both Tedder and Stubitz noted that the municipal course still has the original irrigation system that was installed 50 years ago. In addition to more modern systems being more efficient, there is no way to escape the fact that a 50-year-old system is leaky and inefficient.

Boulder City has three golf courses total, two that are available to the public without a membership. Is the other public course, Boulder Creek, in compliance or is the city going to have to do the same kind of work there?

Stubitz explains, “Boulder Creek will also need to make additional changes to comply, but to a lesser extent than the municipal course as we have already completed several efforts including changing irrigated native areas to 180-degree heads, shutting off two non-functional ponds, and more. This has resulted in water savings now. Boulder Creek is a newer course, so the irrigation system is much more effective and the course was built with a desert landscaping theme.”

Contact reporter Bill Evans at wevans@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401.

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