On Monday, June 22, 2015 Tahoe Donner Association received approval for a hardship petition filed with the Truckee Donner Public Utility District (TDPUD) as permitted in accordance with TDPUD’s Stage 4 Ordinance 2014-05, which states that commercial, non-ornamental landscape users can petition to be given a target in lieu of any prescriptive restriction set forth. Specifically, Tahoe Donner Association (TDA) requested the ability to aggregate all TDA water meters into one target to maximize water conservation efforts while maintaining business and customer service levels. By doing so, TDA and TDPUD can still meet the intent of the emergency drought law, signed into effect by Governor Brown, as well as achieve the end result of the California State Water Resources Control Board’s (CSWRB) 2015 emergency drought regulations of 28 percent set for the district and its customers.
Valuable business components to Tahoe Donner and the private residences within the association include the golf course and amenities. Staff at Tahoe Donner demonstrated the unique hardship with the prescribed watering schedule and explained how the association will pursue meeting the target while maintaining acceptable business services to the association’s members, guests and general public.
A summary of Tahoe Donner’s water conservation efforts are as follows:
Golf Course: TDA’s largest irrigation operation is at TDA’s golf course. Tahoe Donner’s golf course is unique unto its own among the other courses in the area as it is the only course which draws water from the potable water supply of TDPUD. TDA’s ultimate goal is to achieve and exceed water conservation protocols, while at the same time surviving and succeeding as a business. Tahoe Donner staff understands that water is a precious resource, and appreciate the increasing need to conserve. The professional turf management staff are clear on the directive to irrigate in an efficient manner. TDA’s golf maintenance department has proactively taken steps to reduce the need for potable water at our course for many years, and have spent in excess of $150,000 since 2010 towards conservation efforts. Such efforts include:
- Irrigating at night and early morning when evapotranspiration rates are at a minimum.
- The purchase and replacement of dated and/or malfunctioning irrigation heads and nozzles with modern ones, in order to gain maximum efficiency and increase distribution uniformity – $64,000 since 2010. Staff continues to look toward more efficient irrigation options and makes regular adjustments to watering schedules and run times to reduce water usage.
- The purchase and utilization of state of the art computer software to manage applications offering single head control, as well as soak and cycle time capabilities, for maximum efficacy – $50,000 in 2013. Every individual head on the course can be controlled by the seconds, minutes or can be off completely while others are on. With over 1,500 heads with individual control, the course is only watered in the areas needed to avoid overwatering.
- Daily monitoring and adjustment of irrigation system and components.
- TDA’s most notable effort was a $20,000 investment towards the installation of pressure reducing valves to our irrigation system in 2010. Due to elevation change, which caused extremely high pressures at the lower portion of our course, staff was previously forced to water roughly one-third of the property with TDPUD water only.
- The golf course has two non-potable wells. In 2014, staff replaced a dated booster pump to help maximize well efforts to decrease potable water use from TDPUD – $9,800.
- Restrooms on the golf course are water efficient. Toilets and sinks have automatic closing valves; drinking fountains and bottle fill stations are also equipped with auto shut-off devices; and two of four bathrooms on the course are vaulted, meaning they use no water. Two additional toilets within the golf maintenance building are also low flow, which was an upgrade made in 2012.
Within the approved petition, Tahoe Donner staff requested the ability to apply an Alternative Means of Compliance (AMC) method to the golf course watering and other turf supplied by the Tahoe Donner’s turf watering system. This will result in watering on days not allowed under advertised prescriptive water days, but permits Tahoe Donner to be more efficient while still achieving water conservation targets. AMCs are common in southern California and are now being developed throughout the state. They are based on the realization that golf course managers are driven to use the least amount of water possible and possess the technology and responsibility to do so. An overwatered golf course is undesirable in many ways, which includes, but is not limited to:
A decrease in playability and conditioning
A decrease in turf health
An increase in the potential for turf disease
An increase in fungicide use to control turf disease
Money (the cost of buying water and chemical treatments)
Given the approved target and method, the golf course will be able to irrigate in a healthier, more efficient manner. Tahoe Donner operates the most sophisticated irrigation control system available that is heavily monitored throughout the golf season. The golf course property is approximately 200 acres, 95 of which are irrigated turf. The turf covered areas break down into four main categories, and are listed respectively in order of importance to playability:
Greens – 3 Acres
Tees – 2 Acres
Fairways – 55 Acres
Roughs – 35 Acres (includes Driving Range)
The golf course staff continues to reduce irrigated acreages by using the state of the art technology. The roughs represent nearly 37 percent of the irrigated turf areas, and are the target for the majority of Tahoe Donner’s water use reduction. While the golf course cannot completely eliminate all roughs, it can reduce the acreages that is irrigated, starting with the areas that come into play the least. Management will continue to proceed with irrigation head replacement, which in part, includes converting full circle heads to part circle heads to reduce run times and overwatering. The conversion assemblies we are installing are more efficient in operation and allow us to reduce run times as well.
Amenities: TDA staff has identified several areas that are targeted for water reduction to the overall water consumption efforts.
Key changes instituted include:
- Food and beverage operations
- Complying with California law and only providing water to guests upon request.
- Improved best practices within the kitchen and dishwashing are expected to produce savings as provided for in industry wide water conservation tips and best practices.
- TDA intends to eliminate outdoor showers at the Trout Creek Recreation Center, as well as install water control push buttons on all amenity showers.
- All of the amenity ornamental planter box popup sprinklers will be replaced with drip systems, and in some cases irrigation will be abandoned.
- Amenity lawns are managed with the golf course maintenance management and the AMC will be applied. This will result in watering possibly on days not allowed under advertised prescriptive water days.
- Continual analysis on water usage will occur providing TDPUD assistance to identify internal water leaks, as well as revisiting plumbing and fixtures to achieve the highest conservation ratings over time, as has been TDA’s practice.
“Conserving water is a priority to the team at Tahoe Donner and our community,” said Robb Etnyre, general manager. “With TDPUD’s full support, we can now more efficiently conserve water with the implementation of our extensive water procedures and protocol.”
Thank you for taking a proactive water-reducing stance with Tahoe Donner.