Pacifica Water Battle Pits Golfers vs. Frogs

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011  |  Updated 12:45 PM PDT
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Pacifica Water Battle Pits Golfers vs. Frogs

A fight is heating up over a city-owned golf course, with converging interests that include recycling, ecological preservation, and recreation.

The city of San Francisco owns the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, and has been pushing a plan to irrigate the grounds with recycled water. That would appear to be a more ecologically sound alternative to piping in drinkable water from Yosemite, as is currently done. Recycling the water could save 50 million gallons a year, according to the Ex.

But wait -- the recycling plan might be harmful to local wildlife. The golf course is home to some threatened species, and so the project stalled for years as Rec & Park came up with a restoration plan that would protect snakes and frogs.

Golf courses are already a major environmental hazard. According to a recent study, the poisons and fertilizers used on city-owned courses are a major source of local water pollution, which in turn affects the local wildlife population. The city has expressed a wish to move away from harsh chemicals, but until the funding is freed up to hire more gardeners, the cheaper chemical solution is their only option.

The city now needs to find a way to separate the recycling and the habitat restoration, since the funding will evaporate this year if it's not spent. The recycling work can start right away, but the ecological measures require more approval and could take as long as a decade.

If the city proceeds too hastily with its recycling plan, they could be setting themselves up for failure down the line. It's possible that a poorly-implemented system would need to be ripped out when it comes time for the ecological work in a few years.

The Rec and Park Commission will examine the plan at their meting this Thursday.

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