Recently, I attended a very educational meeting of water and agronomy experts at PGA West. PGA and GCSAA members were invited to a panel discussion about the state of water in the Coachella Valley, and how golf courses can and will play a role in the conservation of water in the years to come. The room was filled with approximately 80 attendees. Special thanks to Todd Keefer, PGA and General Manager of PGA West for hosting this event and MC’ing the panel discussion.
The panel consisted of Craig Kessler, Director of Government Affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, John Powell Jr., Board President of the Coachella Valley Water District, Dean Miller, Director of Agronomy for PGA West and President of the Hi-Lo Chapter of the GCSAA, Stu Rowland GCSAA Hi-Lo Past President and Jeff Jensen, regional representative for GCSAA.
Craig Kessler, from the SCGA, opened the meeting by saying water sustainability IS the future…and how do we accomplish that in Southern California and especially in the Coachella Valley?
Here are some interesting facts:
Golf courses represent only 3.5 percent of the total turf grass in California (most turf grass acreage is associated with home and commercial landscapes, parks, schools, sport fields and right of ways.)
Golf courses consume approximately 1.2 percent of the total water consumed for crop irrigation in California, and account for less than 1 percent of total fresh water used in the state.
In the Coachella Valley, all drinking or domestic water comes from the groundwater basin, a source usually referred to as the aquifer . Water for agricultural irrigation primarily comes from the Colorado River. It is delivered to local farms via the 123-mile Coachella Canal . A quarter to a third of farm irrigation water is groundwater, pumped from privately owned wells. In addition to local farms, 27 golf courses within the Coachella Valley Water District use imported water from the Coachella Canal to supplement their groundwater use. CVWD also uses imported Colorado River water to artificially replenish the aquifer at four sites throughout the Coachella Valley. Replenishing with imported water supplements natural groundwater replenishment from rain and melted snow. Source: CVWD website
According to John Powell Jr. of the CVWD, we as a desert community are doing a good job of water conservation. Within the next decade, we will have made steps to annually replenish water to the aquifer equalling the amount that we consume. So, in other words, the net consumption of the aquifer will be zero. The state of water conservation is very good in the desert. So, why the need to conserve?
There are many reasons to conserve water. One reason is the rising cost of water. Since the Coachella Valley currently pays to import water from various sources such as the Colorado River, managing consumption will always be a part of this platform. Another reason is that the population is increasing and thus water consumption is increasing. As our society grows, we will always have to focus on water preservation. Additionally, atmospheric and geological conditions are not a given. For example, California is experiencing it’s worst drought in history and it’s necessary that we conserve intelligently for all contingencies.
There are more practical reasons to conserve as well. Conserving water promises a range of savings that affect the bottom line of every golf course. It means less mowing, fuel consumption, labor, wear and tear on equipment, and electricity to run irrigation. Overwatering also encourages diseases and can lead to detrimental turf conditions.
According to Jeff Jensen, regional representative of the GCSAA, the PGA of America and the GCSAA are working together to create long term solutions to water conservation. As stated by Stu Rowland, past president of the Hi-Lo Chapter of the GCSAA, though not mandatory, many golf courses in the Coachella Valley are committed to being leaders of water conservation. Courses are managing their water usage and looking for new and innovative ways to conserve water. Golf courses in general are at the forefront of irrigation technology. It’s common place to use computerized irrigation systems with the ability to control individual heads, soil, moisture sensors, wetting agents…and the list goes on. In addition, courses in the Coachella Valley are looking to remove unnecessary turf and replacing it with desert landscaping. The general goal within the golfing community is to decrease water consumption by 10 percent with in the next 5 to 10 years.
Conservation of water is a vital component to operating your golf facility and establishing an appropriate financial plan accordingly will help to sustain your business well into the future.
For more information about water conservation, contact Todd Keefer, PGA:
Government Relations Committee
Todd Keefer, PGA – Chairman Phone: 760.564.7100