Low water level forces Maderas Golf Club to shut down wells

By Steve Dreyer

A drop in the groundwater level has forced the Maderas Golf Club to shut off well water pumping at three of its nine locations.

Poway’s Maderas Golf Course.

The level in well No. 6, being used as a test site under terms of a conditional use permit issued by the city, was down to 180 feet on Jan. 10, according to a required report submitted by the golf course’s owner, Sunroad Enterprises. The CUP requires pumping at three wells on the east side of the country club to be shut off until a future measurement at No. 6 shows a water level of at least 178 feet. Measurements are taken monthly and are posted on the city’s website.

The golf course resumed pumping a few days after a 3-2 City Council vote on Nov. 19 permitting groundwater pumping of water for golf course irrigation purposes. All wells were turned off in August 2011 in response to concerns expressed by Old Coach Estates neighbors, who live east of the golf course, that their well water levels were dropping due to golf course pumping. Sunroad is limited to removing 173 acre feet (56.4 million gallons) of water per year.

At the Nov. 19 meeting, attended by over 100 people, Sunroad representatives presented studies they said showed no relationship between pumping on the golf course and declining water tables in nearby private wells. Several of the 17 people who spoke against having the council approve a modified CUP insisted that the golf course was the reason their wells ran dry.

The four-hour public hearing ended with Mayor Don Higginson and Councilmen John Mullin and Jim Cunningham allowing the resumption of pumping. Councilmen Dave Grosch and Steve Vaus opposed the motion.

Since opening more than 12 years ago, Maderas has depended on a combination of well water and municipal water to keep its approximately 88 acres of landscaping green.

Short URL: http://www.pomeradonews.com/?p=44816

Posted by Steve Dreyer on Jan 27 2014. Filed under Local News, Poway. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

21 Comments for “Low water level forces Maderas Golf Club to shut down wells”

  1. Guest

    Our Governor has asked that we reduce water usage by 20%. Sounds reasonable. Did our Governor impliment a reduction in building permits to slow the need for more water? NOPE.

    Not long ago we reduced water usage by 25% as a city and we were met with high water rate hikes. We personally reduced usage by 65% by taking out every blade of grass. Our rates are higher than when we had grass. So, we will not be reducing water usage by one drop this time. If reduction was truly serious, then all building permits would be placed on hold.

    • Guest

      I'm pretty certain the Governor has no authority to rescind local building permits. That would be up to your City Council.

      • Gary V.

        The Governor may not have the authority personally but the State does as do cities, etc. I think the point that "Guest" was making is valid. At least it was for my family and I.

    • Joe St. Lucas

      The governor has not lowered the limit on the low-income housing mandates for the cities in the state. I think Poway is on the hook for 1200 or so more units although the funding sources for these is non-existent since they killed the redevelopment agencies. How do we reduce our water usage by another 20% while building 1200 low-income housing units?

  2. roger

    While not perfect (Let’s remember how the city had the 5 tier system until the elite in green valley had a fit), why not base the water tier system on how many people are listed for living at that address (Use census numbers). Based rate for that number and if the user goes over, then they pay more based upon a sliding upwards scale. If I’m not mistaken, water for people should come before water for lawns. Of course water rates for agriculture groves and farms would be based upon another rate (We do need to promote this because, what some tend to forget, if you shut off or greatly limit the water to agriculture, prices go up due to increased transportation costs).

  3. Tom Yarnall

    Day after day, day after day,
    We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
    As idle as a painted ship
    Upon a painted ocean.

    Water, water, every where,
    And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, every where,
    Nor any drop to drink.

  4. Joe St. Lucas

    The base fee that people pay for the water line, whether or not you actually use any actual water, is based upon the lowest usage in the last few years January/February water usage. The idea is that this is our "rainy" season and that any water we're using is our usage for toilets, showers, laundry, etc., and NOT for watering our lawns.
    Now in our current drought situation, those still w. lawns will be watering them instead of letting the rain do it since there's no rain. The end result is that a lot of people's base fees will go up, although not right away.

  5. Guest

    We all reduced water like we were asked. The water authority said they could not pay their bills cause we all used a lot less water. So they raised our rates. By a lot.

    Please quit issuing permits for all new construction to truly address the over use issue.

  6. D K Nicholl

    I am a 8th generation Californian and I can not believe whats been happening to this state over my lifetime. There always been a limited amount of water available 7-12 inches of rain per year. The problem is not the amount of water available but the 38 million and not counting extras that live here and consume this most precious resource. This state has wasted vast amounts of money on frivolous projects (High Speed Trains), when they should have been building reservoirs and protecting watersheds for future water usage. What everyone is concerned with is what is PC correct and not what is best for the citizens of California

  7. Tom Yarnall

    Revenue must be maintained to pay the managers in water districts the exorbitant salaries, bonuses and benefits they receive.
    The transmission of water is very complicated. First you must understand that water runs down hill and, if it is required to run up hill a pump must be installed. Just anyone is capable of grasping such complex principles.

    • Gary V.

      And, I believe, all of us residents are now paying for water to be pumped uphill for a few residents and many businesses.

  8. Pam Moore

    And did you know Maderas Golf Club receives their raw water at cost? No tiers for golf clubs.
    But since that's not cheap enough, pumping North Poway dry and destroying the natural habitat is far cheaper for the club for their short term business plan.
    At the rate Maderas wells are declining the club will most likely be out of groundwater give or take five to six years even with their 1,200 ft wells. Data is on the Poway website.
    Fair share costs and conservation doesn't seem apply to exclusive golf clubs, nor those that can afford to live on the hilltop. But as our mayor said a couple years ago to a few residents about permitting Maderas to pump so much groundwater, "Life is not fair."

  9. Tom Moore

    Tom Yarnall is correct that all of the residential water rate users pays for the water districts salaries, bonuses, medical benefits and retirement benefits etc. However, the Maderas and other big water users only reimbursement of the actual cost of water from San Diego Water Authority plus a small administrative fee to Poway Water District.
    It time that the we, the public demand the elected officials stop giving big companies breaks in water fees. We need get rid of the mayor and council members that gave Maderas bailouts.

    Please join me in demanding that the City cut big users water by 20% and raise their rates to pay their share of all of the water department costs. Vote against the Mayor Higginson and Council Member Mullins in the next election if they continue to support bib business over the citizens of Poway.

  10. MulliganStew

    Just out of curiosity – aren't the people who use Maderas largely composed of members of Poway elite? It seems there is an awful lot of outrage at Maderas by the very people who use it.

  11. Tom Yarnall

    Not sure, but I think any council member who is a member of the Maderas Golf Club should recluse themselves from voting on matters related to the golf course. I have no way to know if that is the case, but if it should be, the recent vote to turn the pumps on may have failed, since the vote would have been 2-2 if one yes voter is a member and recused himself..
    It was interesting to read former mayor Cafagna was a member of the club.

    • Sharon Cafagna

      I would like to make it clear that at no time was Mickey a member at Maderas.

      • Tom Yarnall

        My apology for making a bad assumption. Based on his reputation, I know Mr. Cafagna would not have been biased in favor of "the course he loved", unlike many politicians.
        I guess I was just blinded by the empathy I have for the home owners over big business. No disrespect intended.

  12. Pam Moore

    Nope. The outrage comes for friends of Blue Sky that have watched the deterioration of the reserve nd knowledgable residents that measure the static water levels of the ground water which is also declining rapidly. To lose a few feet each year would be okay, losing 40-60 ft a year is alarming. By Sunroads own data the water table is dropping from over pumping more water that what can ever be recharged. Check out USGS data on groundwater depletion.
    Those elite golfers and Heritage Estate residents many with the very deep 1,200 ft wells used for landscape have been told by Sunroad if the golf club can't save money by pumping ground water the golf course will go brown. With the rates for memberhship and rounds perhaps they should develop a better business plan.
    Are council members Maderas members or regulars? I would agree they should excuse themselves from voting.

  13. Gary V.

    Maderas is a business. Make them shut down their wells and buy water from the city at the same price we residents have to pay. They then will increase their fees to cover this cost and the few people that actually use the course will burden the cost of water. Why on earth should they be able to buy water for cost when we residents have to pay increased fees for water to live on? Maybe it would be best to close it down and develope five properties on the land.

    • Joe St. Lucas

      Maderas waters 88 acres of their 172+ acre parcel. Should they close down due to lack of water, how many houses would be built in its place, certainly more than five.

      They hashed out the business end of the deal on Nov 19 at the council meeting that didn't seem like it was ever going to end. The 3-2 vote for approval was based on the monitoring of the wells and it seems like that part is working, low well water, lower pumping.

      It will be interesting to see what Maderas's next move will be.

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