Supervisors open door to potable water for Dairy Creek



County officials will begin exploring drinking water sources to address Dairy Creek Golf Course's water shortage, a change in direction from last year when the Board of Supervisors instructed staff not to consider potable water sources as an option for the course during a drought.

Dairy Creek, the 18-hole course at El Chorro Regional Park, is in a crisis. Its supply of reclaimed water from the neighboring California Men's Colony went into a sharp decline due to prison realignment and a downturn in the number of inmates housed at the facility. As a result, Dairy Creek has struggled both aesthetically and financially.

The county is currently working with an advisory group and a consultant to craft a master plan for the course. The Board of Supervisors heard an update on those efforts on Feb. 28. Some of the proposed remedies include expanding on-site water storage for runoff, collaborating with the Cal Poly golf team, and redesigning Dairy Creek into a nine-hole course.

While the board previously instructed staff not to consider potable water sources during the drought, the board's new chair, 1st District Supervisor John Peschong, and 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold indicated they wanted to include all water sources in the quest to preserve the 18-hole course, including water from places like Whale Rock Reservoir or Lake Nacimiento.

"I have done some research on nine-hole golf courses. They do not deliver what an 18-hole golf course does," Peschong said. "[Staff] should look at all avenues. I would like to have a discussion about it."

Supervisors Adam Hill (District 3) and Bruce Gibson (District 2) opposed the motion, expressing concern about using potential drinking water for a golf course. The vote passed 3-2.

A final draft of the El Chorro Park Master Plan will be presented to the board in June 2017.

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