Thames Water exempts golf clubs from ban

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 29, 2012 08:14

Britain’s largest water authority has made golf clubs under its jurisdiction exempt from two major aspects of its hosepipe ban, although several clubs are still unclear as to what is permissible.

Golf clubs that have water supplied by Thames Water can now use permanent sprinkler systems underneath their greens.

The water authority, which covers scores of golf clubs in south-east England, ranging from Basingstoke to Bishop’s Stortford, is one of seven in southern and eastern England that brought in a ban on the use of hosepipes on April 5. Initially, the ban, which is still in force despite huge amounts of rainfall in the seven areas throughout April, affected all golf course and sports’ ground irrigation, including automatic sprinkler systems, in the Thames Water area.

However, Thames Water has now changed the advice it provides to golf clubs, stating that they can use sprinkler systems, but should act responsibly.

“The use of fixed, permanent sprinkler systems underneath greens plumbed into a potable water supply with timers is now permitted, even if supplied from a storage tank,” said Connie Nattrass, a technical analyst at Thames Water. “We ask though, that clubs act conscientiously and only use these systems for the minimum time necessary and in the evening to minimise loss due to evaporation.”

Thames Water has not stated whether the change in policy is due to the recent rainfall, but did add that ‘two discretionary exemptions to the temporary use ban legislation apply to golf courses’.

“They are permitted to use drip or trickle irrigation watering systems, fitted with a pressure reducing valve and a timer, that are not handheld, that place water drip by drip directly onto the soil surface or beneath the soil surface, without any surface run off or dispersion of water through the air using a jet or mist,” said Connie.

“Secondly, they are also permitted to use a hosepipe, with or without a sprinkler, to water an area of grass or artificial outdoor surfaces where this is required in connection with a national or international sporting event. A list of qualifying events will be published on our website and updated when necessary.”

The announcement, which is similar to one made recently by Anglian Water, that businesses using water for commercial reasons were exempt from the ban, should clear up some of the confusion surrounding conflicting advice given to clubs over the past few weeks.

“Because of the current rainfall we are having there has been no requirement for us to irrigate,” said Neil Clayton, general manager of Chiltern Forest Golf Club. ”However, we didn’t know if we permitted to use the water stored prior to April 5 to irrigate the course.

“If the greens deteriorate due to a lack of water, the golf club will lose vital revenue through visitors who play green fees to play, we also then have a real possibility that members will not renew their memberships next year due to the poor state of the golf course. Other golf courses near us that have on course reserves of water can continue to irrigate and therefore can keep their courses and especially the greens in good condition, unfortunately we at Chiltern Forest rely solely on mains water for our irrigation system.

“Following the statement that Anglian Water have made golf clubs exempt from the restrictions, this statement from Thames Water is good news for all clubs who only have mains water to irrigate with.”

Please read the comments below to see how some clubs are still confused by conflicting advice they have received from Thames Water this week.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir April 29, 2012 08:14
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  1. bill May 5, 07:41

    It is shocking to see how detached Thames water are from reality concerning automated irrigation systems on golf courses in that they say the popup systems should be used in the evening!! Did they think we use it in the middle of the day to drive all the golfers off the course.!

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  2. Alistair Dunsmuir Author May 3, 10:01

    I now know of 5 golf clubs that have contacted Thames Water this week. Two were told they were exempt from the ban and three were told they were not – one of that three was then told that they were after all!

    Clearly the internal comms at Thames Water could be a bit better.

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  3. Alistair Dunsmuir Author May 1, 09:40

    Thanks Mark – Another course manager has also received conflicting advice from Thames Water. It seems that not everyone at the authority is aware of the change in policy.

    If anyone would like a copy of the email confirming the exemption please email with Thames Water in the subject box


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  4. Mark May 1, 09:00

    Sorry to bore you all with my burbling about the ban, while I was to talking over the phone to Steve Eaves regarding this article, I had an unexpected email from Thames. Golf clubs are exempt. So good news!!

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  5. Mark May 1, 08:24

    I have just had a reply from Thames Water via an email and golf clubs ARE NOT exempt unless hosting a National or International event. Can I suggest you change this post or clarify the information you have been given please. It has made a nearly happy course manager in to a demoralised one once again.

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  6. Mark May 1, 07:51

    I have just spoken to Thames Water and they cannot clarify this decision. The customer service advisor that I have spoken too hasn’t got any updates or notes for this change in legislation.

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  7. Richard Griffiths (@ohTricky) April 30, 12:37

    “@GCM_mag: Thames Water exempts golf clubs from hosepipe ban” HURRAH. !!!!!

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