Water conservation efforts and innovative golf courses represent new front in climate change fight

The next round of climate negotiations in Montreal, Canada this week could save tens of millions of gallons of water. As negotiations intensify to reach a new international climate agreement ahead of the summit in December, delegations in both parties are discussing new ways to address climate issues in their everyday activities. In particular, golfing enthusiasts in both Canada and the United States are focused on changes in environmental impact.

The United States Golf Association, the group responsible for golf’s “other” Olympic sport, has concluded that artificial watering of greens is contributing to the worst drought in at least 20 years. In Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia, nearly 3 million gallons of water is wasted annually in watering golf courses. That amounts to “nearly 6% of total irrigation water used in golf for the year,” according to the BBC. In the United States, National Geographic reports that golf courses use 41 million gallons of water to irrigate their greens, 15 million of which are lost through evaporation each year. The problem comes in the system of watering, which generally uses runoff from grass to water in golf courses in the summer and winter, with only about 10 percent going back into the ground. About a quarter of the water used is lost during water testing and only 7 percent is used for water at first mowing. The USGA has started a pilot program to dry out the water for irrigation, and the program’s data will be used to frame changes to the practice system. At the British Open, one crew that for years had been watering around the clock was working only two hours a day. The idea is to ease players out of the heat and improve the course’s overall impact on the environment.

Golfers in England and Wales have helped make a difficult decision on how to save water on their courses by reducing the amount of turf cut each day. The BBC reports that the average grass cut for courses in England and Wales has been reduced from 9 to 8 hours per day, which is slightly below the levels of a decade ago. For landscapers, the water savings are significant, since about 90 percent of water used in golf is spent on watering the turf and turf maintenance. Golfers have also been urged to recycle water from sprinklers as waste.

No one thought we’d have to engage in climate-action talks on golf courses. These global waters. 🌊 pic.twitter.com/JxWpz6fHvm — Andrew Searle (@williamarmyt) April 2, 2018

The decline in golf’s popularity can be attributed to the success of a campaign that encourages people to explore alternatives. But Canadian “waterwise” leaders in Montreal are working together with sports organizations in the U.S. to save green in their courses. Heavy users of water will be asked to make changes, and will not necessarily be penalized for not recycling water. Despite the water conservation efforts, some courses will still be designed to use as much water as they can. Negotiations are ongoing for courses to deal with it in a secure way that doesn’t harm their sustainability. But the partnership between the Canadian and American bodies is another example of how industries must work together if we are going to make changes to combat climate change in its worst form — an impact that golf and golf courses are just one example of.

Read the full story at Slate.


Study proves why you should stop watering your lawn and cut back on your watering

New regulation may require golf courses to have $5.4 million up-front for climate change resilience

Senators seek payments for governments to cover climate change-related costs

Leave a Comment