by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibel’s three golf courses are in full compliance with the city’s best management practices for maintaining their courses.
The Sanibel Island Golf Course improved its score by three points, which brought it into full compliance for the first time since the implementation of the grading system in 2011. The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club was 3.5 points from a perfect score and The Sanctuary Golf Club earned the same score as last year.
This year’s report from the city’s Natural Resources Department was presented to City Council on Nov. 2 by Director Holly Milbrandt and Environmental Biologist Dana Dettmar.
All three golf courses, along with residences, are linked to the city’s important water bodies. Sanibel has long realized the importance of reducing nutrients released into the water system in reusable water. The city continues to invest in upgrades at its Donax Water Treatment Plant as part of the overall water quality program that includes the annual report cards for golf courses.
A perfect score is 65 and The Dunes scored 61.5. Five is a perfect score in 13 different categories and The Dunes earned ten 5s. That’s 95 percent and represents a 32 percent improvement since 2011 and a 1 percent improvement over last year.
The Dunes lost 1.5 points over a requirement that all reuse water be set back 25 feet from all water bodies and all irrigation heads using reuse water also be set back 25 feet. Height of grass buffers around lakes and wetlands cost The Dunes a full point.
The Dunes also lost a point over a 30 percent minimum requirement of the littoral zone of each golf course lake be planted and maintained with submerged or emergent aquatic vegetation on a minimum of 3-inch centers.
The Sanibel Island Golf Course, which has the Sanibel River meandering through it, earned full compliance after scoring 59 on the report card, or 91 percent. The club has shown a 65 percent improvement since it came under new management in 2013 and a 5 percent improvement over last year.
SIGC earned a perfect score in nine categories. Last year, the club scored a zero for failing to have runoff from all wash down facilities properly treated prior to discharge from the site. This year, the club earned 3 points in that category.
The club lost two points for the same lake planting requirement that cost The Dunes a point. It also lost a point over grass buffer and irrigation setback requirements.
The Sanctuary earned 60 points again this year. It lost three points for grass buffers around environmentally sensitive areas that should be mowed less than 2 inches higher than the other grass to slow and filter overland flow. And lost another two points for not meeting the 25-foot buffer around lakes or wetlands.
Otherwise, The Sanctuary’s scorecard included 11 perfect scores for 92 percent. That represents a 1.5 percent improvement since 2011.
“Although there are additional opportunities for improvements at all courses, reductions in nutrient loading to their lakes are likely if they continue with their current practices,” Milbrandt and Detttmar stated in their report.