Is Fairview sure that a toxic invasion [that would] severely compromise the quality of our wells and drinking water is not about to happen? Golf courses are water-guzzling, chemical-leaching properties. Right now, deforestation for Phase I of the Tiger Woods golf course for The Cliffs [at High Carolina] has begun—to the bare ground—and we have not been given a clear plan of what is to come next. Shouldn’t the developer realize that the residents below this golf course are concerned about contamination of our life-giving wells and soil?
The developer of the Battlefield Golf Course in Chesapeake, Va., which opened to the public last year, used fly ash as a base. Well water was supposed to be monitored and a number of other “controls” instituted, although few were implemented. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently re-evaluating the use of fly ash as fill, since groundwater tests have indicated that unacceptably high levels of arsenic leach into the ground water. Arsenic is one of a number of heavy metals found in fly ash. It is linked to cancer, according to the EPA. Do we know whether The Cliffs intends to use fly ash? Considered to be a “coal combustion byproduct,” the [substance] would [essentially] make the area an industrial-waste landfill.
Seven years ago, homeowners near the golf course knew fly ash posed a threat to water quality and voiced their concerns to developers in community meetings. Today—and before Phase II—we ask that the developer communicate to us the plan for the golf course. Will safe, organic matter be used? Can they buffer Rocky Fork spring? Will they consider creating a truly nontoxic golf course, if only for the good public relations it would generate? Frankly, the county’s approval of the golf course should have come with a long list of conditions, especially about water. There were conditions attached to development of the Battlefield Golf Course, including receiving a new well if one runs dry or shows signs of contamination, and twice-a-year groundwater tests by the developers to make sure drinking water is safe for neighboring communities. At the very least, these conditions should be applied to The Cliffs’ golf course.
Speak-up Fairview! E-mail your concerns about our wells to our commissioners. At the forum held on April 16 at the Fairview Community Center, they assured me they will work to ensure the safety of our water source. Speak up. I can’t do it alone!
— Francois Manavit
Daniel Brazinski, Vice President of Golf Maintenance for The Cliffs Communities, Inc., responds: Since the opening of our first golf course in 1993, The Cliffs Communities have never used fly ash. Studies have shown that the groundwater that runs through a properly maintained golf course can actually emerge cleaner than it was before entering the course. At The Cliffs, we have a commitment to leading by example in environmental practices. In addition to exercising green development and maintenance practices that go well beyond what is required by law, we have also invested significant resources, in cooperation with Clemson University, in developing The Cliffs Center for Environmental Golf Research, an industry-leading turfgrass research facility. The goal of [center] is to create the most environmentally friendly golf courses. We are the first in the country to embark on such a project and intend for all of The Cliffs’ golf courses—including the Tiger Woods design at The Cliffs at High Carolina—to benefit from the best practices already in place through our program, and to incorporate the emerging data from our research that can to help us develop the next generation of green golf courses in America.