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Golf course closes one day due to high water

Incident not related to delayed gravel extraction program, says municipality

Nicklaus North Golf Course was forced to shut down operations Sunday as rising water filled the parking lot and covered several holes on the course.

“It’s not ideal,” said general manager Jeff Ciecko, of losing a summer day’s business in the height of golf season.

“There was a lot of standing water on the golf course and we just made a decision to close it down for the day while we moved all the carts out and moved inventory…”

It was only two years ago when water seeped into the clubhouse basement, destroying 85 power carts at one time.

On Sunday morning the water was as high as 36 inches in some sections of the parking lot. The Valley Trail around the course was submerged in some sections too.

The municipality, which is responsible for maintaining the flood protection systems, was monitoring the situation over the weekend.

Brian Barnett, general manager of environmental services, said the combination of high lake levels and strong mountain run-off created the conditions for Sunday’s flooding.

By his inspection, it appeared the water from Fitzsimmons Creek was flowing under the base of the dyke, through saturated soil and running in a stream into the parking lot.

“There (was) no threat about overtopping the dyke and the water (was) hardly even lapping at the bottom of the dyke,” said Barnett. “So it’s really just saturated soil conditions that we’re looking at.”

Typically the water should drain from the parking lot into Green Lake but with lake levels so high the water had nowhere to go, creating a big puddle in the clubhouse parking lot.

Barnett said there is no connection to this incident and the fact that gravel has not been removed from Fitzsimmons Creek in two years.

Nicklaus North resident Doug Mildenberger has been appealing to several levels of government about this issue since April when he noticed a large build up of sand and gravel in the riverbed. He was frustrated by the response. The municipality could not dredge the creek, he learned, because the federal department of oceans and fisheries had refused to grant the permit.

“It’s tough enough to run a golf course and maintain the greens and try and do the things that bring tourists to town,” said Mildenberger the day after the high waters.

“Somebody’s got to do something about it.”

Barnett explained why he does not believe the gravel and the latest incident are related:

“The gravel removal program doesn’t have any impact to this situation, in my opinion. The gravel removal is really a measure to ensure that the river doesn’t overtop the dyke.”

In this case the water wasn’t coming over the dyke.

The municipality has obtained a gravel removal permit for the August period when work is allowed in fish-bearing streams and will be removing the accumulated gravel this year.

In the meantime, engineers are looking at the sewer systems and ground flow conditions to see if there can be any improvements after the latest incident.

As for the course, golfers were back at play on Monday.

Ciecko said: “The plus side is, if there’s a plus side to be found, we’ve not had to turn the irrigation on in a couple of weeks and it is very, very green out there, so no heat burn-out as we typically might get sometimes in July and August.”