FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A golf course in Fort St. John has successfully unlinked its sewer rates with its water consumption.
The Links Golf Course in Fort St. John petitioned city council for a new, lower calculation of the rate it pays for sewer services from irrigating the course based on the precedent set by the lowered rate given to Peace Valley OSB.
The sewer rate both businesses now pay for process water, or water used as part of a process that does not return it to the sewer, is 10 per cent of the previous rate.
Len Holland, writing on behalf of the family-run course, requested the reduction.
The cost of water consumption, he wrote, is a higher percentage of the course’s operating costs than other courses in the area—including Charlie Lake golf course, which can irrigate with water from the lake.
The “Links-style” of the course uses natural rainfall to water the fairways and rough. Irrigation is only used on the tee boxes and greens to maintain a playable surface.
The Links Golf Course has used a 2-inch connection to water parts of their courses for 25 years. The connection is seasonal, and during the summer the course is charged monthly for its use of the city water. Other parts of the business, including the clubhouse restaurant and washrooms, run on a different source of water.
Ultimately, sewer rates are calculated based on water consumption, assuming that the water used eventually returns to the sewers. In the case of irrigating a golf course, a significantly smaller portion of used water—if any—makes its way back into the sewer system.
Peace Valley OSB receives a discounted sewer rate based on both its contribution to the community and local economy and its use of “process water” that does not return to the sewer system.
The council agreed that The Links course fell under the same process water exception crafted for Peace Valley OSB.
It also agreed that the club is a benefit to the community because of the recreation it provides.
Though a decidedly smaller economic contributor than Peace Valley OSB, Jeremy Garner, director of public works and utilities speaking on behalf of the recommendation to accept the proposal, pointed out that value.
“It’s more fun to play golf than work,” he said.
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said that that depends on how well one plays golf.