Issue Background

Water Management

GCSAA Actions:


In July 2011, GCSAA submitted comments to EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on their draft guidance for determining whether a waterway, water body, or wetland is protected by the Clean Water Act.


In 2012, GCSAA presented data from the Golf Course Environmental Profile at the USGA Water Summit and several golf course superintendents were featured speakers at the event.


GCSAA affiliated chapters in states like Florida, Georgia , Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and elsewhere are demonstrating proactive environmental stewardship through the creation and implementation of comprehensive BMP programs and certification.


In 2013, GCSAA and its chapters throughout the country collaborated with state and local officials to develop practical water management public policy on golf courses. Examples: Superintendents in Texas worked with the Texas Water Conservation Advisory Council to update its golf course water management BMPs; the Minnesota GCSA partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Waters, to redefine water appropriation standards; and superintendents in California began serving on the San Diego and Los Angeles water conservation task forces.  

In 2014, GCSAA launched the Water Use and Conservation Survey, the first survey of the second phase of the Golf Course Environmental Profile.



U.S. EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) 

Irrigation Association

WateReuse Association

Waters Advocacy Coalition


Position Statement:

Golf course superintendents are responsible stewards of water resources. GCSAA supports collaboration with all levels of government to address water use and quality issues and for golf course superintendents to be involved in the construction of productive public policy related to water issues. GCSAA supports the use of reclaimed, effluent or other non-potable water for golf course irrigation when the water quality is suitable for plant growth and there are no public health implications. GCSAA does not support mandated use of reclaimed water when the water quality or water quantity is not adequate, when use is not cost effective or when the golf course superintendent does not play a key role in the decision-making process for the development of effluent water standards. GCSAA supports water conservation and the utilization of irrigation/water use best management practices (BMPs). GCSAA supports water conservation and water quality protection laws and regulations that are based on sound science and credible data and promote the values of turfgrass and professionally managed landscapes.  

GCSAA does not support Congress, EPA or the Army Corps of Engineers expanding the jurisdictional reach of the federal Clean Water Act. This would be an unprecedented expansion of the regulatory authority of the federal government. Expanded federal jurisdiction would pre-empt traditional state and local government authority over land and water use decisions and alter the balance of federal and state authority. Increased delays in securing permits will raise costs of and impede many economic activities.

GCSAA supports golf facilities utilizing irrigation system audits as a means to increase the effectiveness of the irrigation system and conserve water. GCSAA also supports the creation and use of written drought management plans by golf facilities that are subject to drought cycles.


Background Information:

Water availability, water quality, water rights, water use and water affordability are significant issues for golf courses at all levels of government. Some areas of the U.S. require golf courses to use reclaimed, effluent or other nonpotable water sources for irrigation and it is important that there is access to water suitable for use on turfgrass.  Proper management and conservation of water resources is an important issue for golf course management. Efficient water use and water quality management on golf courses requires up-to-date technologies, continuing education, scientific research, and sound management practices by golf course superintendents. Innovations at golf facilities include the use of reclaimed water, sophisticated weather instruments such as weather sensors, wetting agents, drought- and salt-resistant grasses, water conservation and water protection practices. Many golf course superintendents monitor water quality of streams and groundwater. Golf courses can also have a significant impact on groundwater recharge, especially in suburban areas.

Specific water issues include:

  • Water quality - surface and groundwater protection, nutrient loading, non-point source pollution
  • Water quantity - effluent/reclaimed water, drought, conservation of water resources
  • Water cost – affordability, tiered pricing

"Efficient water use and water quality management on golf courses requires up-to-date technologies, continuing education, scientific research, and sound management practices by golf course superintendents."