13 Dec 2016

Frilford Heath Opts For Otterbine Air Flo 3

Diffused aeration system brings significant improvement to reservoir.

Water conservation is a hot topic at the moment and any way to re-use, recycle and utilise that resource on a golf course is good news.

Working towards a degree of water self-sufficiency, Frilford Heath, a 54-hole championship golf course complex seven miles south of Oxford, has had an Otterbine Air Flo 3 installed in its 6m, 10 million gallon reservoir to aerate the water and make it good enough quality to irrigate the course.

Course manager Sid Arrowsmith, who has been at the helm of Frilford Heath since 1994 and is one of only 70 BIGGA Master Greenkeepers, tells us the improvement the diffused aeration system has made to the water quality since installation is “significant”: “The Air Flo has had a big job to do. Our holding reservoir is a fantastic resource, but the water at the bottom had become too unhealthy to go on the turf.

“Under licence from the Environmental Agency, the water is piped from a brook down stream through farming fields, bringing pollutants such as waste and silt with it. So, even as it arrives, it’s ready for a clean. Because it’s not feasible to empty the old reservoir water out before the new water arrives, the water at the bottom was very old and probably hadn’t seen the light of day for up to 10 years; as a result it was starting to smell and turn black in colour.”

The Air Flo 3 pumps air to diffusers on the lake or pond bed to release oxygen, creating mass circulation to the bottom and top water layers without affecting the water’s surface. Sid says it’s this circulation that will clean the water: “Churning the water up from the lower levels will allow the aerobic bacteria to do their work and metabolise the nutrients. This process takes time considering the volume of water but we had water ready to use within 12 weeks, which is a significant improvement.”

The ultimate aim is for a degree of self-sufficiency and Sid and the club have been working with the Environmental Agency every step of the way towards ensuring the reservoir is a sustainable entity; holding good quality water accumulated throughout the year and ready for irrigation in the summer and whenever else needed. 

Already a Toro machinery customer, Sid decided to stay with Lely Turfcare and opt for Otterbine for the job. The fact that the Air Flo 3 is also energy-efficient, quiet and requires minimal maintenance were additional benefits.