Sunday, July 20, 2008

Golf Course Environmental Profile - Water

Interesting full series can be reviewed here. Some elements, pesticide, energy use - haven't been published yet, but are scheduled for later this year.
  • The average person in the U.S. uses 100-175 gallons of water every day at home….
  • In Africa, the average family uses 5 gallons a day.
  • 15 billion is spent annually on bottled water in the U.S. 24% is ordinary tap water repackaged by major soft drinks companies. More than 70% of the plastic bottles are not recycled; 38 billion bottled end up in U.S. landfills.
  • The United States uses about 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day.
“When it comes down to it, it’s up to each community to decide what is a fit use for water,” Lyman says. “That’s where the percentage that golf uses is important — at the local level. I think where golf needs to be at the end of the day is to be known as an efficient user of water. If it is, it justifies a seat at the table to help decide how communities use their water.”

The Southwest agronomic region leads in annual water use per facility with 149.5 million gallons, followed by the Upper West/Mountain region with 97.9 million gallons. The Northeast region uses the least, 13.8 million gallons per facility. Interestingly, in total annual water use, the Southeast, with more than 3,200 facilities, consumes 260 billion gallons, while the North-Central, with 4,125 courses, uses 92 billion gallons.

The second survey of GCSAA’s Golf Course Environmental Profile is in, and results are being released this summer. The survey estimates that U.S. golf courses account for just 0.5 percent of the country’s daily water use. Photo courtesy of The Toro Co.

The survey divided the U.S. into seven agronomic regions — Northeast, North-Central, Transition, Southeast, Southwest, Upper West/Mountain and Pacific — and Lyman found it interesting that significant differences in water use, irrigated acres, costs, etc., surfaced across the regions.

“This study really documented the diversity of use in a way that we haven’t known before,” he says.

For instance, of the estimated 762 billion gallons in total annual water use on U.S. golf courses, the use per facility ranged from almost 250 million gallons a year in the Southwest and Upper West/Mountain regions combined — 2,300 courses — to only 29 million gallons in the Northeast and North-Central regions — 6,800-plus courses. Likewise, the annual cost of irrigation water in the western three regions is far above the rest of the country (topped by nearly $108,000 per course in the Southwest). Moreover, the proportion of courses that pay nothing for water is well over half of those in the four eastern regions.

The differences by region in the number of acres of irrigated turf on 18-hole facilities follows the pattern, but in far less dramatic fashion. Irrigated turf acreage, however, sticks out in the survey results as one of the issues that is a bit disconcerting to the golf course industry.

The Southwest region has the highest irrigation water costs at $107,800 per facility a year. The Pacific region is the next highest at $42,400 per facility. The lowest annual costs are in the North-Central region, $4,700. In recent years, irrigation water costs have increased at 27 percent of U.S. courses and have decreased at only 3 percent of the facilities.