Written by: Scott Gillespie
Houghton Golf Club is situated in a low precipitation area of the South African Highveld. The annual rainy season is only 4 months and lasts from late November to the end of March. Unfortunately, our water harvest area that runs into our catchment silt dam is often contaminated with sewage and this creates an ammonia problem for the indigenous fish as well as a nitrite and nitrate issue resulting in a fertilizer control nightmare for the greenkeeper.
Having some experience in closed system filtration for koi ponds the concept of ammonia removal was adapted to our feeder dam by creating eight 1m x 1m gabions filled with zeolite rock. The zeolite acts as a sponge for the ammonia as well as a very suitable habitat for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and a mechanical barrier for solid waste. The result is that our irrigation water has gone from over 200ppm NH3 to less than 1ppm NH3.