SCGA Public Affairs


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Many of you have read today’s headlines about yesterday’s announcement by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) that the purchaser of water that serves 19 million Southern Californians has taken the unprecedented step of declaring a “water emergency” and ordering outdoor water usage be restricted to one day per week.

Read and perhaps panicked. There is cause for concern to be sure, but not panic. The “one day a week” component of yesterday’s announcement got great play. The rest of the story did not. The complete language of that part of MWD’s order was as follows: Cities and smaller water suppliers that purchase water from the MWD are required to start restricting outdoor watering to one day a week, or to find other ways to cut usage to a new monthly allocation limit.

In response to queries from parks managers in Ventura County, MWD General Manager Adel Hagekhalil made clear that the District plans to implement measures in ways that accommodate local cities’ and agencies’ ordinances and drought contingency plans. Concerning those ordinances and plans, Hagekhalil is quoted in today’s Los Angeles Times as follows: “If these plans have exceptions to preserve public sports fields or parks . . . we intend to accommodate that. The decision-making is at the local level, and we recognize that.”

Having spent many years working in Los Angeles’ Sanitation and Water & Power Departments, Hagekhalil is very familiar with the most robust of the region’s local “ordinances and plans,” the one in the City of Los Angeles that distinguishes ornamental turf from functional turf by permitting functional turf (e.g., parks, sports fields, cemeteries, and golf courses) to meet or exceed conservation mandates through means alternative to day-of-week/time-of-day restrictions. In short, Los Angeles Water & Power’s “Alternative Means of Compliance” program allows such functional turf, known in the state’s codes as “special” or “large” landscapes, to operate on 80% of a budget assigned by the Department based upon a formula embedded in California’s Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance – this in lieu of adhering to day-of-week/time-of-day restrictions imposed upon all other forms of outdoor irrigation. The program is by privilege, not right, and is complicated, but it has worked in Los Angeles to reduce golf course water consumption while allowing courses to keep the maximal control over irrigation schedules central to maintaining healthy turf.

Click here to read an application that spells out all of those complicated details. If your water provider has not embedded such a program in its permanent rules/codes as has the City of Los Angeles, do what so many of such jurisdictions did during the last spike in the megadrought; share it with your provider as a “best practice” that represents the ultimate “win-win” in securing real water savings while keeping golf courses as healthy as possible while doing so. The goal is conserving water, not blindly following rules that are one-size-fits-all.

Concern not panic is the order of this moment – concern and a powerful incentive to reduce water use to the barest minimum possible. There is no guarantee that next precipitation year will be any better than the last three. The Sierra snowpack does not produce the run-off it did just a few years ago. The Colorado Basin is severely over-drafted. Climatologists inform us that we’re more in a long-term megadrought than a series of recurring droughts. The climate is warmer and drier than it used to be. Need we say more?

Archived Updates

Opposition to Assembly Bill 1910

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CGCOA Golf is Good Ambassador Program

Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.

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FORE - Public Affairs

FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.

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It isn’t often that one bill can highlight all that separates one side of California’s great water divide from the other – from those interests fixated on conservation as the focus of future supply and those intent on pursuing a more diversified portfolio – from those who are often accused of believing that California can conserve its way out of its aridification predicament and those who are convinced that if conservation is the only tool in the state’s water resiliency toolbox, California is doomed to be hollowed out in much the same way rust belt cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit were in the last quarter of the 20th Century.

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Charles Dickens’ famous opening of “A Tale of Two Cities” comes to mind as a good descriptor of where California’s water situation and golf’s place in it stands after back-to-back record precipitation years: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...".

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Four Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion yesterday that seeks to crack down on what the motion describes as “black-market tee time brokers” who book and resell city golf course tee times for profit.

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When introduced by Assembly Member Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) February 16, AB 3192 contained a provision that would have banned the use of all nonorganic pesticides and fertilizers on golf resorts in California’s Coastal Zone.

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A cautionary tale from semi-rural Santa Barbara County to remind you that the pressure to repurpose golf courses is not just a phenomenon in California’s densely packed urban cores.

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The National Golf Course Owners Association’s (NGCOA) Harvey Silverman may have characterized the City of Los Angeles’ uncommonly quick reaction to intense media scrutiny (five separate Los Angeles Times stories including a Sunday lead editorial) of the depredations of tee time brokering with his quip in the organization’s “Golf Business Weekly” about the city having reacted “faster than fixing potholes.”

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Every year there seems to be one bill filed in one house of the California Legislature that keeps the California golf community up at night.

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