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Grass not greener over the fence

The Ballan bowling ‘green’ that has died after a combination of extreme hot weather and bore water that contained salt. Photo – Helen Tatchell

By Helen Tatchell

The last two-months of summer have not been kind to the district and the Ballan Bowling Club have been hit hard.
With only 8mm of rain in January, and 7mm in February, their bowling rinks have gone from green to dead. But it wasn’t through a lack of water.
Mick Conroy is the Secretary of the club and said they were using bore water from the recreation reserve tanks.
“January was a very hot month and we found we were getting bare patches in our green, so we upped our water consumption with sprinklers, but the green got worse,”
he said.
Mr Conroy said in the end it just became unplayable; “alright for practice but not for competition.”
“We stopped our home pennant matches and got an independent turf consultancy mob in to do a thorough analysis of our green. They took 30-soil samples of the green and the results came back with high salt content in the green.”
The testing also sampled the water they used from the bore.
“We’ve been using, this year, water from the bore rather than the mains, and didn’t know the salt content in the soil rose.
“Last year we used mains water constantly and it cost the club $1500, so this year we decided to use the bore constantly,” Mr Conroy said.
Unfortunately for the club they thought they would save money, but now, face a repair bill of between $30,000 up to $200,000, depending on the option they take.
They have four options with the latter being a costly synthetic green.
The second option is to take two inches off the top of the green, recondition the green, rotary hoe it and start again with reseeding and re-fertilise, at a cost of $30,000.
The third is – don’t play next year and redevelop with a different sort of grass at a cost of $40-50,000, including loss of income.
Mr Conroy said the fourth option is to patch it.
“We can get it back to playable conditions, with patch up remedial works. This would last about 2-3 years, and in that time hopefully get enough money for a synthetic green.”
The club spends annually upward of $15,000 on greens maintenance. A cost the club incurs through membership and sponsorship.
The club has taken swift action and connected a 50,000 litre fresh water tank to the roof of the clubrooms, and plumbed back in to the sprinkler system. The recreation reserve committee of management supplied the tank, with local plumber Travis Toohey donating his time to connect it and a local water cartage business also sponsoring to fill the tank.
Currently the club has 47 playing members and 56 social members.
“If we don’t have a bowling green, we don’t have a bowling club,” Mr Conroy said.
“What we are trying to do is have a bowling green in five-years that will last 20-years.
“It is going to be tough to raise $200,000 but will source as many Grants as we can for the funding,” he said.
The members, through the executive committee will meet to make a decision within the next week.
The Ballan Bowling Club is located in Cowie street and is a user group at the Ballan Recreation Reserve.