Facility BMPs: We need your review!

New York State’s golf course BMPs were first published in 2014. Now five years later, we are updating the BMPs, in some cases adding new and updated information, including incorporating the pollinator BMPs (published in 2017). We have also incorporated discrete BMP statements to complement the BMP principles we identified in the first edition.

The draft final version of the Facility BMPs is available for download here: NYS_FacilityBMP_DraftFinal_05222019

To provide comments, please download the comment form here:
NYS Facility BMP_DraftFinalReview_CommentsForm

As part of the process of revising and updating, we are seeking input from superintendents across the state and the state’s regulatory agencies to review the draft final version and provide comments to NYGCF. Any superintendent or asst. superintendent in NYS is invited to participate in the review process. Superintendent reviewers should consider the content at three levels: the overall document, chapters, and page-by-page. The following are a few questions you may want to consider when reviewing:

  • Are these BMPs something that can be implemented at your facility? How about facilities of varying sizes/budgets?
  • Are there any topics that have not been covered in this document that you think should be addressed?
  • Are there any topics that are covered, but may need additional detail?
  • Is there any information presented that you think needs clarification?

Written comments submitted on or before July 16th to our project manager using the comment spreadsheet to submit comments. Please note: there are two pages in the spreadsheet – one each for specific comments and one for chapter comments. The superintendents on the NYGCF board and Cornell University scientists will review each comment and document how each comment is addressed in the final version.

NYGCF has undertaken the effort to create a facility BMP template to further implement BMPs across the state and to provide superintendents a process to make this process easy. Besides contributing to natural resources stewardship, additional incentives for golf courses in New York State to create a facility BMP plan and implement BMPs include the following:

  • potential for more efficiently allocating resources by identifying management zones
  • cost savings associated with applying less fertilizer and pesticide
  • cost savings associated with more efficient irrigation and other water conservation efforts
  • improving stormwater management efforts as storms in the area become more intense
  • improved community relations`
  • recognition by club members and the community at large as environmental stewards

We look forward to the input of superintendents across the state in this effort.

A Foundation for Sustainability: The New York Golf Course Foundation

The New York Golf Course Foundation (NYGCF) is a newly launched non profit to promote sustainable golf management efforts in New York State. This new organization is an evolutionary step for the New York State Best Management Practices (BMPs) project begun in 2012 that established the state’s first golf industry BMPs.

The foundation’s mission is to continue and expand upon the work of the BMP committee, raise the profile of the state’s golf industry with respect to its environmental sustainability efforts, and to fundraise to provide a sustainable source of revenue to continue these efforts. Scientists from Cornell University will continue working with NYGCF to update the BMPs, address new topics as the need arises, and provide education to the superintendent target audience.

The current focus of the NYGCF is outreach and education aimed at promoting the acceptance and implementation of BMPs by the state’s golf course superintendents. In addition, the Foundation will continue to promote the recognition of BMPs as the best way to protect and preserve our water resources and enhance open space. State lawmakers and regulators have applauded our past efforts and the Foundation’s directors will continue to inform these key stakeholders of the activities of the new Foundation.

Under a current Turf Environmental Stewardship Foundation (TESF) grant, the foundation is working on an update to the state’s BMPs that will be incorporated into a template that can be used by any superintendent in the state to create a site-specific facility BMP. Once completed, the foundation will provide information and workshops for superintendents to become more familiar with the process of completing their own BMP document. Taking the time to create a facility BMP can pay off in a number ways; for example, superintendents can use their site-specific BMP document as a resource during the permit negotiating process with local towns by recognizing the club’s commitment to protecting water quality or as a tool to educate golfers and/or the interested non-golfing public regarding the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The facility BMP tool is expected to be available to superintendents through the GCSAA’s BMP portal by October.

In addition to the facility BMP template development, the Foundation is currently working on re-establishing its Twitter feed (@NYS_GolfBMP), publishing new blogs on the website, and documenting case studies of BMP implementation. The Twitter feed, blogs, and case studies are designed to inform, update, and educate superintendents about time sensitive BMP-related methods for completing various environmentally sensitive tasks. The NYGCF will also continue maintaining and updating the BMP website (http://nysgolfbmp.cals.cornell.edu/).

We invite superintendents to subscribe to the Twitter feed, submit case studies (through the website comment field), and read our blog.

Educational Plan

Since publishing the Best Management Practices for NYS Golf Courses book and this website, the NYS BMP committee has focused on outreach and education efforts to promote the acceptance and implementation of BMPs in New York State’s golf industry.

As part of these efforts, the committee surveyed the state’s golf course professionals to conduct a formative assessment of BMP concepts and a survey of BMPs as implemented on NYS golf courses. This survey was conducted in 2015 and early 2016 with a response window of four months. Once the survey period ended, the results were analyzed to determine educational and outreach priorities for our target audience of NYS superintendents and assistant superintendents. The following topics were identified to emphasize and prioritize:

  • pesticide and fertilizer storage and handling
  • pesticide and fertilizer application
  • regulations such as the P-law
  • key elements of a progressive golf turf IPM program
  • equipment washing areas
  • optimizing irrigation systems
  • soil nutrient test interpretation

To find out more on the quiz and survey results and how the NYS BMP committee is implementing the plan, download the Educational Plan (pdf).

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!

 

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: https://tinyurl.com/y8oyb4bc

First test run of the completed 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.