British Columbia

B.C. drought: Are golf courses still being watered?

Taps are being turned off all over the province as drought conditions worsen and golf courses are facing new restrictions but not going completely dry.

Vancouver Park Board says current drought stage allows parts of the golf course to stay green

The increase to stage 3 water restrictions means that golf courses are feeling the squeeze. (Getty Images/OJO Images RF)

Tighter water restrictions in Metro Vancouver are in effect as the long dry spell drags on and reservoirs continue to dwindle.

The bump to stage 3 restrictions means a ban on washing of cars, no kiddie pools filled in the backyard, and all lawn sprinkling with treated drinking water banned, but certain parts of golf courses are still being allowed to be watered.

"We've already cut back on water starting on stage 2," says Howard Normann, the manager of urban forestry and specialty parks with the Vancouver Park Board.

The newest restrictions mean that greens and tee areas are the only area of a golf course that can be watered minimally. Fairways are not allowed to be watered at all

Normann says he's never seen conditions this bad before.

"This is uncharacteristic of Vancouver to have this length of time in drought conditions. It'll be interesting to see how long [the grass] takes to bounce back because if we got to a quick turnover from fall to a colder snap, it really won't have time to recover."

Earlier conservation?

Normann says that despite current conditions, it would not have made sense to conserve water earlier when water sources were plentiful.

"There's lots of other reasons to water a golf course. Green grass does cool the area just like shade from trees.

"There's wildlife on the golf courses, all kinds of insects, so it's a lot more than just playing golf. We're very careful with the way we water our turf."

He adds the drought conditions have led the park board into uncharted territory when planning for water shortages, saying an increase to the next stage of water restrictions could be devastating.

"Stage 4 is basically to shut off all the potable water, all the drinkable water for any type of plants, trees, turf, and even greens on golf courses. That would be catastrophic for us."

The Early Edition

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