A reappraisal of groundwater at a golf course built largely atop a fill-in wetland has cast doubt on the strategy and timetable for restoring the flood-damaged Hiawatha golf course in Minneapolis to its full 18 holes.
Park officials announced shortly before a public meeting Tuesday night at Nokomis Community Center that initial data obtained Friday revealed groundwater volume at the course to be much greater than previously known. That news derailed plans to discuss three alternatives for renovating a course that’s 81 years old after torrential rains ravaged it nearly 15 months ago.
“The underlying assumptions about this project have changed drastically,” area park Commissioner Steffanie Musich said, labeling the degree of groundwater pumped from the course already “shocking.”
She drew scattered boos from some golfers when she pledged that the course would remain a park, even if golf can’t be maintained. Some neighbors have been lobbying for more intensive winter use of the site for cross-country skiing; others want walking paths.
Michael Schroeder, an assistant park superintendent, said discussing renovation strategies was fruitless for now. A fuller groundwater report is due in November.
By one calculation, the amount of water infiltrating into one pond on the course is 273 million gallons annually, compared with a permitted 38.5 million gallons. Without pumps, groundwater might overwhelm the course.
The front nine holes of the course are open.