Last week one of my playing partners had the misfortune of pulling his tee shot on 13, hitting a tree and having his ball rattle off one of those brown buildings in the middle of 13 tee, 15 green and 16 tee. When the cursing subsided, and emotions were brought under control, lucidity was brought back into the conversation – he asked me “what’s in those buildings anyway”?

In fact, those buildings are integral to the irrigation system of the Course. Both are pump houses and both house…. guess what? – pumps!Read More>>

As you can imagine, keeping a 135 acre premier golf course green and lush, requires a bit of water. Niakwa obtains that water from two sources. The primary source for irrigation water is the Seine River. The Club has a license to pump 100 ‘acre feet’ of water from the Seine on an annual basis. The license is renewed every ten years.

A pump, located in the older of the two pump houses, pulls water from the Seine and moves the water through a 4 inch line down the 16thfairway and over to the pond between the 4thand 6thholes. Water then flows by gravity through a ten inch line to the pond between the 11thand 16thholes.

Inside the pump house

You may have noticed from time to time there is a bluish tint to the water in the ponds. This blue colour comes from dye that is is added to the water monthly to prevent rooted weeds from establishing themselves. The south lake also receives a regular dose of copper sulfate, which is used to kill the vegetation that comes with water out of the river. The river water contains seeds, plants, and all manner of naturally occurring things that we don’t want running through our system and onto the course.  When the 16thpond is being treated, a gate is shut to ensure the copper sulfate treated water doesn’t flow through to the north pond and get onto the course.

Water is pulled from the 16thpond near the flowerbed at the west side of the pond. That’s where the water enters the irrigation system.

Together, the ponds store 8,000,000 gallons (36 million liters) of water. That’s good for about two weeks of watering.

Niakwa also has a 40 foot well, which gets put to use from time to time. The well is also located in one of the pump houses.  We have a separate license to draw water from the aquifer. The problem with the well, though, is that the water is very salty. It has to be blended with river water in the ponds and our grounds crew has to be careful about the mix. Our soil conditions are already very alkaline …. and grass likes acidic soil.

That’s the macro view of our irrigation system. The finer points and how the system is controlled is another story. I’ll cover that in next week’s blog.

It should be pointed out that this complex system didn’t happen on its own. Ken Kinsley was President during the excavation of the two retention ponds and upgrade of the irrigation system. One can only imagine the disruption to the course and to the playing conditions. It took some backbone for Ken and his Board to take the heat from frustrated Members and to see the project through to completion. Thanks to Ken and his colleagues for having the foresight and perseverance to get the job done.





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