Eagle’s Landing Spray Irrigation Project Back On Track

WEST OCEAN CITY- Despite a delay in the start date, the vast new spray irrigation system at the municipally-owned Eagle’s Landing golf course is now gaining momentum and is expected to be completed by the start of the prime spring golf season.

At Tuesday’s Recreation and Parks Committee meeting, Eagle’s Landing Superintendent Joe Perry provided members with an update on the long-awaited spray irrigation project for the municipal golf course in West Ocean City. The Town of Ocean City in 2014 entered an agreement with Worcester County to create a spray irrigation system at Eagle’s Landing.

In simplest terms, the project will create a vast network of supply lines and sprinkler heads throughout which highly treated effluent from the neighboring Mystic Harbor and other properties will be dispersed on the golf course, which will benefit Eagle’s Landing. The county benefits because it will be able to disperse millions of gallons of treated effluent that otherwise would have to be disposed of through other systems.

In addition, the expanded wastewater handling system will allow for the removal of some less environmentally friendly septic systems in the area. The project is largely administered by Worcester County despite Eagle’s Landing being owned and operated by the Town of Ocean City. The project went through a series of delays with approval required by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), for example, but is now on track for completion before the spring golf season.

“After much ado and a three-week delay, the project started on Nov. 21,” Perry said. “They’re working on the main supply loop throughout the golf course that will ultimately supply 1,500 sprinkler heads.”

Perry said the 1,500 sprinkler heads throughout the golf course will nearly triple the existing number of sprinkler heads, which now stands at around 490. The new sprinkler heads will be used to irrigate the fairways and greens, of course, but the expansion will also allow for greater irrigation of the rough areas and the natural areas out of bounds on the course.

“It’s a very big project as far as golf courses go,” he said. “It’s going to be state-of-the-art. They’re not putting ‘90s technology in there.”

The project was expected to begin around Nov. 1 with a target completion date of April 1. However, a variety of factors conspired to move the start date back to Nov. 21, which, in turn moves the completion date back to April 21. The anticipated later completion date could inch closer to the prime season for golf at Eagle’s Landing.

“We hope it will be substantially completed by April 1 with them finished and out of here by April 21,” he said. “That about the latest we can go without impacting our prime golf season.”

Perry said despite the late start, the project is picking up speed and the pace will be expedited more after the first of the year. Currently, the contractor has one crew working at Eagle’s Landing, but most of the equipment is on-site for a second crew, which could arrive in January. The second crew is currently deployed at another project, but should be mobilizing at Eagle’s Landing in a matter of weeks, according to Perry.

“They’ve finished the front nine and now they are on the back nine starting with hole 11 and next they are going down hole 13. They’re banging out about 200 to 300 feet of the larger pipe per day. If the weather cooperates and they get a second crew early next year, they should get it done.”

Perry said the timing of the project can create weather-related issues, but the impact on the winter usage at Eagle’s Landing has been minimal.

“Once a hole is worked on, it gets closed,” he said. “We have come up with a plan to minimize the impact for golfers. In some cases, they play just 17 holes, or they can play extra holes if one is closed while being worked on. In other cases, if they’re working on a section of a fairway, the tees can by moved making a par four into a par three, for example. Fortunately, it’s the dead of winter and there are maybe 25 people out there playing on a given weekday.”

Perry said the project requires physically digging trenches around the golf course in a main supply loop before eventually running smaller lines to the vast number of new sprinkler heads. He said the contractor has been diligent about quickly repairing the golf course as the main loop is installed.

“They are really good at what they do,” he said. “So far, there has been very little impact on the golf course aesthetically. They take up the sod and put it right back down. After a growing season, you’ll never know it was even done.”

Perry said the fiscal benefits from the project allow for other projects to be completed at Eagle’s Landing.

“Another part of the great deal with the county is relief on our water and sewer bill for the golf course for the next 40 years,” he said. “The savings is being diverted into a general improvement fund to be used for repairs and rehabilitation projects around the golf course.”

Perry said the first project to be funded is the replacement of the aging and often leaking roof on the clubhouse. There will also be improvements to the bag drop area along with enhanced landscaping around the golf course’s facilities.

“It’s going to look fabulous,” he said. “It’s going to be a really nice, fresh look for the clubhouse. When our customers come back in the spring, they are really going to know a lot of work has been done.”