Welcome to the New York State Best Management Practices blog page. On this page we will be providing news, information, and insights on the use of Best Management Practices to protect natural resources. To be notified of new postings, please sign up using the form at right.

New Case Study Video

Visit the NYS BMP Youtub channel to view the new case study video on the low cost washpad demonstration conducted at Locust Hill Country Club:


“Finding the Baseline”: A Simple Approach to Water Quality Monitoring

As winter fades and the Spring rains arrive, a significant amount of water will flow along the surfaces of our golf courses and into wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes, and the spectacular estuaries of Long Island. In fact, New York State is associated with more than 15 individual watersheds (see inset to find your watershed).

In some parts of the world, regulatory agencies can impose strict water quality reporting requirements on land managers. In fact, strict water quality reporting has been considered within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the Susquehanna River Watershed, and is undoubtedly of interest to those involved in the various initiatives for nutrients and pesticides on Long Island.

As good land managers, it is vital that we understand any potential impact we could have on our local water bodies, and if possible, the groundwater below the land we manage. A good place to begin might be to test the water that passes through the golf course during the spring rainy period. In fact, one of the “Getting Started BMPs” states “Assess current surface and groundwater quality.”

Establishing baseline data is critical for representative water bodies and water sources that may be impacted by golf course operations. Baseline tests should be conducted 4x/year for the first year and should be taken from the same locations every time to ensure consistency.

The first step is to identify two sampling locations for testing flowing surface water ( creek/stream/river): one location where the water enters the property and the second where the water exits. The sample should not be collected directly from the side of the waterbody as sediment can contaminate the sample. If you must collect water near the edge of a water body, use a dipper or other type of extension to take the sample away from the shoreline. To collect the sample, use clean plastic containers that will hold at least a 100 ml and with lids that make a tight seal. Rinse the bottle (including the lid) several times with the water to be tested. Fill the sample bottle completely and eliminate all head space (no air space). Be sure the lid is tight so that samples do not leak during transit.
If possible, collect and ship samples to the laboratory on the same day. The same laboratory you already use for soil testing may offer water quality testing services as well. A basic analysis will include results for at least pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and specific conductivity.

Two sample submissions collected four times in the first year might require about four total labor hours for collecting samples and sending out for analysis. Lab fees for basic analysis for the baseline data should be a couple of hundred dollars. More information on this BMP is available at

Stuck in the Shop? Do a Point Source Pollution Assessment!

Winter in New York affords time for reflection on the growing season and planning for the new one. However, after a month of that exercise, you are still “stuck in the shop”! So while you are stuck inside why not conduct a review of the potential environmental risk? Did you know your maintenance shop is often the location on the course that poses the GREATEST risk to water quality – POINT source pollution.

A critical first step in aligning your facility with Best Management Practices is to assess potential point source pollution risk. Point source pollution is any single identifiable source of pollution from which pollutants are discharged, such as a pipe. Examples of point sources include:

  • discharges from equipment washing area
  • waste from pesticide
  • fertilizer and equipment maintenance wastes
  • unintended releases fertilizer and pesticides storage areas

It is clear much of this risk emanates from the maintenance shop area where equipment and chemicals are stored and transferred to and from equipment. Minimizing the risk from these areas begins with recognizing the potential for off-site movement, understanding any regulatory requirements associated with the volume of chemical storage or rinsate, and mitigating the risk through proper containment.

If you are considering a new facility, local building inspectors should be consulted during planning to outline the permitting process and local requirements. Also, consider meeting with a representative from a NYSDEC regional office and the local fire marshal. The NYSDEC requests a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) for new construction, which is administered by local governments. NYSDEC, and other interested and involved agencies, comments on SEQRs.

An excellent place to begin any assessment of your existing facility begins with understanding the regulatory guidelines that are provided by the NYSDEC. These have been summarized on the NYS BMP website.

A very practical article to consider the condition of your existing facility was penned in 2014 by USGA Senior Agronomist Dave Oatis, titled, I Know We Don’t Have the Money, but Can We Afford NOT to Invest in a New Maintenance Facility?

Since you are stuck inside, you might as well consider looking around at the building you might be stuck in and see if it measures up!


It’s not Sexy-The Long Play for the High Ground: Do the BMP Assessment and Survey Today!

Stewardship of the natural resources on New York State Golf Courses is the guiding principle behind the establishment and implementation of our Best Management Practices. The media, activists and a muted industry shape public perception, which in turn influences public policy. Try as we may, the golf industry is facing an uphill battle with the majority of the public regarding perception of our stewardship of the New York State’s natural resources. Further, an activist element exists in NY focused on health effects of pesticides and nutrients applied to the land, from farms and orchards to sports fields, lawns, and golf courses. Short term, developing relationships with members of our community off the golf course, educating members on the golf course, and communicating the “natural capital” of the course to policy and the regulatory community is critical.

The “long play” is to have data that tells the story. In an age when reputable sources of information are under siege by the “snap-face-chat-tweet” industry, collecting data that demonstrates action seems to be the best form of a quiet revolution. You can hide from contributing the data we need for BMPs to be tailored to our needs, you can avoid learning about aspects of your course may not entirely understand, but in the end, we each will be held accountable for how we steward the land under our care.

Not all of us can be a Ted Horton, Dan Dinelli, Anthony William or Matt Ceplo. But we can all be recognized for doing our part in shaping the future of environmental stewardship on golf courses in the 21st century. It takes very little time to answer the questions on the assessment of your knowledge, maybe a few more minutes to reflect on the survey of your current practices and their alignment with what science says right now is BEST-not good, not very good-but BEST.

Take 20-30 minutes and take the quiz and survey. It works on your phone, your desktop, laptop and tablet, it’s not sexy but it works. I doubt you will feel any excitement when you are done with the process, but knowing that you are making the long play for the high ground of environmental stewardship might provide a sense of greater accomplishment. It’s what’s BEST!

Results of the Low Cost Wash Pad Demonstration

Pollution Prevention Institute at RIT that partnered with Locust Hill CC on the low cost wash pad demonstration project has just published their case study on the project. Through a Turf Environmental Stewardship Fund grant, the BMP project was able to assist in the demonstration through sponsoring the cost of the equipment purchases (~$6,000) and the participation of Cornell University.

From RIT’s report on the case study, the results were as follows:

  • After reductions of up to 50% using air blowing and different nozzles, approximately 700 gal/day of wastewater would need to be managed. Then if, this wastewater can be filtered and reused, overall reductions in wastewater would exceed 90%. A screen and sand filter was tested and installed, and a UV lamp was added to help control bacterial growth
  • Equipment costs were approximately $6,000 and engineering support provided by NYSP2I
  • As of Fall 2017, system working satisfactory and water recycled
  • System will be monitored periodically for performance and quantification of water/wastewater reduction

Read the full project summary on the RIT website:

First test run of the completed system.

Calling all NYS Superintendents

Since publication of the New York State Best Management Practices for Golf in 2014, the BMP committee (now formalized as the New York Golf Course Foundation) has focused on outreach and education to promote the acceptance and implementation of BMPs. As part of these efforts, the state’s golf course professionals were surveyed two years ago to conduct both a formative assessment of BMP concepts and a survey of BMPs as implemented on NYS golf courses. Cornell University researchers analyzed the results and used the information to develop a plan to direct education and outreach efforts.

With funding provided by a Turf Environmental Stewardship Fund grant, the New York State Golf Foundation has updated the survey questions and is reintroducing the online BMP quiz and survey. This effort is designed to achieve several goals:

  • To provide verifiable evidence for NYS regulatory agencies that a majority of New York State golf course superintendents are utilizing the BMP information.
  • To assist superintendents in identifying areas for potential improvement in their golf course management operations.
  • To encourage the use of the NYS BMP materials by identifying which topics are of greatest relevance.
  • To raise awareness of the importance for superintendents to participate in the BMP project.

The foundation is asking for widespread participation in this effort. Therefore, golf turf professionals are asked to take the quiz and survey by March 30, 2018, on any internet-connected device. The quiz should be taken first, followed by the survey. Neither must be completed in one sitting, as all completed questions will be stored by IP address. Links to the quiz and survey are as follows:



Wash Pad Demonstruction – Final Construction Activities

Construction on the wash pad prototype demonstration at Locust Hill Country Club is in the final construction stages (see the blog post describing the project and the blog post on mid-construction activities).

Below are photos showing the testing of the last component of the system, the booster pump, and construction of a level pad next to the existing wash pad for the equipment to be placed on. The booster pump will take water from the supply tank and pump it into the hoses used to clean equipment. As part of this process, the operating pressure and GPM were measured and determined to be within range engineered for the system.

Wash Pad Demonstration @ Locust Hill – Construction

Construction on the wash pad prototype demonstration at Locust Hill Country Club is currently underway (see our previous blog post description of the project). Below are photos from recent construction activities. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

Testing a submersible pump. The pump will move water and debris from the trough into the hydroscreen.

Testing the hydroscreen The hydroscreen will remove larger debris.

Installed pressure gauges and GPM gauges. These will monitor water flow during washing operations.

Moving the 1,000 gallon storage tank into place.

Trenching the ditch for the electrical line leading to the wash pad system location.



New Pollinator BMPs Published

With funding from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and the participation of Cornell University scientists and educators, the BMP project has developed BMPs specifically for pollinators in New York State. These continued efforts demonstrate the ongoing commitment of the state’s golf industry to implement BMPs and expand the knowledge base when needed.

Both wild and managed bees are facing threats that can alter their health, abundance, and distribution. Research indicates that some pesticides can be harmful for pollinators and can have negative effects at the sub-individual level (such as gene expression or physiology), individual level (such as mortality, foraging, or learning), or even the colony level (such as colony growth, overwintering, or honey production).

Adhering to BMPs on the golf course can reduce the potential for impact to pollinators. A key practice is to utilize integrated pest management methods to reduce the number of pesticide applications, without sacrificing turf quality. When the use of pesticides is necessary, being mindful of pollinators requires focusing on minimizing exposure to non-target pollinators in play and non-play course areas.

Preserving and/or enhancing habitat, both foraging habitat and nesting sites, is another key strategy for golf courses to pursue to help pollinators. Pollinator-friendly habitat contains a diversity of blooming plants of different colors and heights, with blossoms throughout the entire growing season. Providing nesting sites for native species can be accomplished by taking simple steps in out-of-play areas, such as leaving stems and coarse, woody debris and leaving exposed patches of well-drained soil, or by creating nesting areas such as wooden nesting boxes for hole nesting bees or bamboo sticks.

In addition to providing habitat on the golf course, hosting honey bee hives on golf courses is increasing in popularity as people look for ways to help pollinators. Hosting hives provides bees with valuable green space, especially in urban areas, and can be a positive public-relations tool.
For more information on pollinator BMPs, see the new Pollinator section of the web site, download Best Management Practices for Pollinators on New York State Golf Courses and see our case studies on pollinators on two courses in New York State:

• “Enhancing Habitat for Native Pollinators with Low-to-No Maintenance Areas“, Rockland Country Club Golf Course, Sparkill (pdf)
• “Protecting Pollinators on the Golf Course”, Rockville Links Club, Rockville Centre (pdf)
Rockville Links Video Case Study

Wash Pad Demonstration @ Locust Hill

Following the publication and launch of the NYS BMP website, an extensive survey of superintendents in the state was conducted to assess level of competency regarding BMPs and existing alignment of properties with established BMPs. The survey suggested priority areas for our education and outreach efforts, including maintenance facilities and organic- and chemical-waste management and containment. For example, the need for affordable equipment-washing solutions was obvious as well as observations during course visits in NY State.

To address this need, we have initiated a demonstration project on equipment wash pads in partnership with the Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, Cornell University, the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and the University of Buffalo. Prior to the demonstration, Superintendent Rick Slattery worked with RIT on a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)-funded feasibility study that collected baseline information for the design of a new wash pad system, as summarized in our case study.

Locus Hill Country Club is a perfect site for this demonstration project for two reasons: the commitment of Superintendent Slattery to environmental stewardship and a real-world issue that needs to be addressed. Slattery has been nationally recognized for his commitment and has been awarded the NYSDEC Environmental Leaders award. He has also shepherded Locust Hill through the Audubon International certification process to achieve Certified Cooperative Sanctuary status.

The real world issue addressed in the demonstration project is the volume of wash water generated by Locust Hill. Being located at the edge of the suburban-rural divide, houses surround the Locust Hill course. Proximity to the equipment wash pad drainage area resulted in adjacent homeowner’s complaints of odors from the discharge. Because functionally organic debris (clippings, leaves, etc.) was already strained from the wash water, addressing the amount of water being used in washing operations is the solution to eliminating odor issues

This demonstration project is utilizing the feasibility study results for the design of an affordable equipment wash pad system that is estimated to reduce water use by up to 90%. Funded by a Turf Environmental Stewardship Fund grant, a prototype wash pad system is being built and its performance will be documented.

While construction is under way, Locust Hill staff are already implementing two of the feasibility study recommendations: blowing off clippings before washing and using low-flow nozzles to significantly reduce water use. Construction of the new wash pad system should be complete by the end of this summer. A Cornell University case study, project report, and conference presentations will follow to provide detailed information useful to superintendents across the state.

The slide show below depicts the wash pad operations prior to the development of a prototype wash pad that will dramatically reduce water usage. We will provide a mid-construction update on this blog later this year.