By Steve Dreyer

A drop in the groundwater level has forced the Maderas Golf Club to shut off well water pumping at three of its nine locations. The level in well No. 6, being used as a test site under terms of a conditional use permit issued by the city, was down to 180 feet on Jan. 10, according to a required report submitted by the golf course’s owner, Sunroad Enterprises. The CUP requires pumping at three wells on the east side of the country club to be shut off until a future measurement at No. 6 shows a water level of at least 178 feet. Measurements are taken monthly and are posted on the city’s website.

The golf course resumed pumping a few days after a 3-2 City Council vote on Nov. 19 permitting groundwater pumping of water for golf course irrigation purposes. All wells were turned off in August 2011 in response to concerns expressed by Old Coach Estates neighbors, who live east of the golf course, that their well water levels were dropping due to golf course pumping. Sunroad is limited to removing 173 acre feet (56.4 million gallons) of water per year.

At the Nov. 19 meeting, attended by over 100 people, Sunroad representatives presented studies they said showed no relationship between pumping on the golf course and declining water tables in nearby private wells. Several of the 17 people who spoke against having the council approve a modified CUP insisted that the golf course was the reason their wells ran dry.

The four-hour public hearing ended with Mayor Don Higginson and Councilmen John Mullin and Jim Cunningham allowing the resumption of pumping. Councilmen Dave Grosch and Steve Vaus opposed the motion.

Since opening more than 12 years ago, Maderas has depended on a combination of well water and municipal water to keep its approximately 88 acres of landscaping green.

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