EGR Awards Case Study

Paul Stead, CGCS, Deerfield Golf and Tennis Club, Delaware

Paul Stead, CGCS, has long deserved recognition for all of his hard work with drought management issues in the state of Delaware. Stead has given countless hours of his time making sure superintendents are not unfairly restricted during droughts. It is this dedication that has made him an effective advocate for the green industry in Delaware.

The state of Delaware declared a drought emergency on September 4th of 1995. The restrictions that were forced upon the entire green industry unfairly limited them more so than any other industry. A task force of green industry representatives was formed to help educate the governmental agencies on the needs of this industry and to help foster better relationships. Stead was part of this initial group that helped to draft language that would hopefully be used the next time there was a drought warning or emergency declared by the governor.

After the drought of 1995, he attended numerous meetings to make sure superintendents were not unfairly restricted during droughts. One main issue that he was instrumental in getting approved was the use of non-fresh water for irrigation purposes. He suggested the point that if a golf course went to the expense of constructing retention ponds or drilling wells, they should be able to use these sources at times of drought at their discretion. Shortly thereafter, the task force disbanded. Unfortunately, old issues revealed themselves when the drought of 1999 occurred. The governor declared a drought emergency on August 5th, 1999. The restrictions placed upon the green industry did not contain the language that the task force had proposed back in 1996. The task force was once again reconvened to advocate for the rights of the green industry.

It became readily apparent that the green industry did not have a lot of political clout with the governor. Therefore, Stead and a few other insightful superintendents decided something more had to be done. They sought out the state’s golf association to present the idea of having a Greens Section under the direction of the Delaware State Golf Association (DSGA). The DSGA represents 20,000 golfers that vote in state elections and carries substantial political clout. Stead was appointed to the newly created Greens Section and spear-headed new drought regulations.

In 2000, the state formed a Water Supply Coordinating Council (WSCC). Due to the advocacy of the DSGA, a seat on this council was created for a superintendent. Stead was appointed this seat and has attended numerous meetings for this council. His participation has been instrumental in showing the importance of turf grass vitality during drought and drafting regulations that all superintendents could work with.

The hard work paid off during the summer of 2002 when the State of Delaware once again declared a drought warning and placed restrictions on water use. The language that had been previously agreed upon was integrated with the official restrictions and no alterations. This marked a great achievement for the green industry.

Unfortunately, the WSCC was the next to reevaluate its policies. In 2003, the WSCC decided on using a new approach to dealing with potential droughts. The initial drought restrictions were based on a two-step drought declaration; there were restrictions during a drought warning and then a drought emergency. The new restrictions called for a three step approach; drought watch, warning, and emergency declarations. This meant Stead had to go back to square one and work for two years on getting language for a three step declaration that the superintendents and the WSCC could live with. In January of 2005, the three-phase drought document was voted on and approved by the WSCC.

Stead has worked for 10 years on drought issues and his hard work has paid off with not only a document that all superintendents in the state can live with but also an excellent relationship with the governmental agencies that regulate water use in the state. He has put in countless hours attending meetings and advocating for the greens industry. Throughout his tenure, Stead has shown an ability to cultivate relationships with policymakers while also fighting for what is right for the superintendents of the state.