The golf course was officially open for play tee-to-green this past weekend after a massive oil spill on the night of July 16 fouled waterways throughout the valley portion of the 18-hole layout.
A massive clean-up effort followed throughout the week, with the City of Moose Jaw municipal operations department and the Ministry of the Environment joining forces with Hillcrest personnel and contracted work crews to repair the damage as quickly as possible.
“The first initial time frame was to ensure that we had it properly cleaned up,” said Hillcrest general manager Jasmine Cameron. “Environmental services came in and were great to work with, to be honest, and it was a little scary at the beginning when we didn’t know just how big of a clean-up it would be. But we got lucky in the end; it was done in a few days.”
In order to re-open the six holes that were initially closed, the water system needed to return to drinkable quality. That involved the use of oil-skimming booms, heavy vacuum trucks and earth-moving equipment and various other measures to bring things back as close to normal as possible.
“We restored all the ponds, the sewer and drainage system back to that state. They did an excellent job of getting it cleaned out,” Cameron said.
The source of the leak was found to come from a 1,000-litre tank of unused 15W30 motor oil on the South Country Equipment property, with a leak finding its way into the storm drain system and consequently the Hillcrest course.
South Country was quick to assume all responsibility for the accident, including the associated clean-up costs.
“They seem to be willing and ready to work with us, so it’s good that they’re taking the responsibility and taking some of the pressure off of us,” Cameron said. “Weekends are some of our biggest revenue days and even three days in a season, that’s big to us.”
Cameron made a point of thanking the club’s members and players for being understanding of the situation from the beginning.
“That was three days they weren’t able to use the whole course, but everyone knew what was going on and appreciated the work we were doing to re-open,” Cameron said. “And even (Sunday) we had several calls to potentially cancel thinking that we were still not fully functional, or if they’re out of town they might just choose not to come.
“It was just one of those unfortunate situations we had to deal with, now it’s just one day at a time.”