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Golf courses by the numbers

September 28th, 2013 | by Ian James | Comments

How many golf courses in the Coachella Valley are using recycled water for irrigation? Well, it depends how they are counted.

The Coachella Valley Water District had said earlier this month that there were 14 and a half courses in its service area receiving treated sewage or a mix of that recycled water and Colorado River water. That number, when added to five courses supplied by the Desert Water Agency, yielded a total of about 19 golf courses across the valley.

But CVWD now says it has taken another look at the numbers, and when each golf course is counted individually – no matter whether it’s a 9-hole, 18-hole or 27-hole course – rather than the previous method of counting total golf holes and dividing by 18, the total number of courses comes to 22 rather than 19.

Those 22 courses all use non-potable water, defined as those that receive recycled water, a blend of recycled water and Colorado River water, or Colorado River water flowing directly from the Mid-Valley Pipeline, which was built to bring imported water to boost the volumes of non-potable water available for irrigation.

Under this counting method, CVWD says there are also:

*28 golf courses now using canal water directly from the Colorado River;

*8 golf courses that officials plan to connect to canal water;

*39 golf courses that officials plan to connect to non-potable water;

*26 golf courses that are currently out of reach of the planned water systems and would continue to pump groundwater.

CVWD’s total count of golf courses in the valley, using this approach, is 123 (rather than the 124 courses that The Desert Sun has counted previously).

Summary: Based on this count by CVWD, of the 123 golf courses across the valley, 22 courses use non-potable water, including recycled water and Colorado River water, 28 other courses use canal water from the Colorado River, and the remainder – 73 courses – rely on groundwater. Of those that are now pumping groundwater, the water district says there are currently plans for 47 courses to convert to Colorado River water or a mix of imported water and recycled water.

The water district’s board members agreed this week that they want to speed up efforts to take more golf courses off groundwater in order to lessen pressures on the aquifer. It remains unclear what sorts of financial arrangements CVWD will make with golf courses, or how swiftly its talks with additional courses will proceed.

CVWD officials say they are close to an agreement with one golf club, and that more are in line next.

How quickly the water district is able to move toward these goals is likely to depend on available money, the responses from golf courses and also the stances taken by leaders of the valley’s water agencies in the years to come.

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