City to consider pursuing Cattails irrigation grant

A rainbow was captured looking down the Hole #4 fairway at Cattails Golf Course in this photo courtesy of the City of Alamosa.

ALAMOSA– At the Alamosa City Council meeting on Wednesday night, council members will consider a resolution to pursue a $500,000 grant to help fund the replacement of the failing “Back 9” irrigation system at Cattails Golf Course. Cattails Golf Course is owned and operated by the City of Alamosa.

The total cost of replacing the irrigation system is estimated to be $1.3 million.

According to city council communication, a new system would result in significant water savings as well as enhancement of the condition and playability of the back 9 (the last 9 holes of the 18-hole golf course). It is also expected that there would be a reduction in staff time needed to maintain and operate the irrigation system.

Although replacing the irrigation system qualifies for expenditure of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the city has received, obtaining a grant to cover more than a third of the project cost would allow those ARPA funds to be diverted to other water and wastewater projects, such as infrastructure items that unexpectedly failed or came in over budget.

According to City Manager Heather Brooks, since the city purchased the golf course more than sixty years ago, more than $2.6 million has been invested in improving the buildings, land, and equipment required to operate the course. 

These investments have been, and continue to be, of significant benefit, not only in enhancing a facility that adds to the quality of life for residents, but also as a recruitment tool for prospective employees, as has been expressed by major employers in public outreach meetings for the Comprehensive Plan update.

As Donna Wehe, Communications Director for SLV Health, said in a statement to the Valley Courier, “The Cattails golf course is a beautiful asset to Alamosa and the valley residents and visitors. Many recruits, visitors, potential work force or others considering moving here look for outdoor recreational opportunities such as the golf course.”

Having a golf course in the city has also been of benefit to local competitive golf teams, including those at Alamosa High School and Adams State University.

And, according to Andy Rice, City of Alamosa Director of Parks and Recreation, the golf course employs three full-time year-round employees, one part time seasonal employee and approximately 15 part time employees. 

In 2013, the City contracted with Larry Rodgers Design Group to evaluate the irrigation system and the course design with an eye towards water conservation.  The summary of that review clearly highlights that not only is the system beyond its life cycle, its design and equipment are not efficient and require an inordinate amount of manual labor to operate, thus pulling valuable resources from other operational needs.  

In short, the current system has outlived its life cycle and failure to repair the irrigation system on the back 9 could ultimately result in Cattails Golf Course being a nine-hole golf course, which significantly impacts the value of the course to both the city and all who play there.

Rice also states that repair of the irrigation system is also not a new goal. It has been on the five-year list of capital improvement projects with the city but is listed as “unfunded”, specifically because there was no clear way to fund the work that needs to be done.

According to both Brooks and Rice, if the city pursues and is awarded this grant, that outside funding, in combination with ARPA funds currently available, will make it possible.

The grant under consideration is available through the Federal Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART program.

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