The new high-tech system will plug the El Paso, Texas club into an aquifer, preventing the possible interruption of water utility services in the event of a drought, and saving the property money in the long run.
Butterfield Trail Golf Club and El Paso (Texas) Water Utilities have found a solution they say should save the golf course money in the long run while keeping the greens green and helping the water utility manage the water supply, El Paso Inc. reported.
Right now, the course draws its water from a well field to the west of the course. When Butterfield drew up its agreement with El Paso Water Utilities, the utility provided the water with the condition that it could divert it from the course if it was needed because of a drought, El Paso Inc. reported.
“In the event of a drought they knew from day one they were subject to interruption of service,” said John Balliew, President and CEO of El Paso Water Utilities.
So now Butterfield is building a $4 million well and high-tech filtration system at the course that will plug it directly into the Hueco Bolson, an aquifer that extends from New Mexico, through West Texas, and into Mexico. The bolson is one of El Paso’s primary sources of water, El Paso Inc. reported.
El Paso International Airport, which operates the municipal golf course, is paying the utility to design and install the well, El Paso Inc. reported.
“It’s going to help (the water utility) in terms of their water conservation efforts as well as help us become more self-sustaining from a financial and water usage standpoint,” said Sam Rodriguez, the airport’s assistant director of aviation development.
The water deep beneath the golf course is salty, so the well will be fitted with a reverse osmosis system to turn the brackish water into fresh water, El Paso Inc. reported.
The green in the desert is a feat of careful design and high-tech irrigation, said General Manager Val D’Souza. The club put together a conservation plan three years ago. Runoff from irrigation and rainwater are collected by golf course ponds and reused, and a computer controls the irrigation system, placing just the right amount of water in just the right spot. The course also uses a drought-tolerant grass that hibernates in the winter, turning a golden color, El Paso Inc. reported.
“The architects built that into the golf course knowing it is a desert environment,” D’Souza said.
As a result, the course doesn’t use as much water as some others in desert areas. But it still uses as much as 13.5 million gallons of water some months, although water usage varies greatly with the weather and seasons, according to airport data, El Paso Inc. reported.
“Every year we have been reducing our usage,” D’Souza said.
Water accounts for roughly 13 percent of the golf club’s total facility expenses each year, according to an airport spokesperson. The well is expected to cut the club’s water expense by as much as 80 percent or 90 percent, El Paso Inc. reported.
D’Souza said the goal is for the course to become certified as an Audubon sanctuary, El Paso Inc. reported.
The well project is only a small piece of the airport’s $139 million capital improvement plan. The most expensive project is a three-story, 18-acre consolidated car rental facility that is supposed to open at the airport in a couple years. Launched eight months ago, the 5-year plan uses no city funds. Instead, it is paid for with grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, rental car fees and other airport revenues, El Paso Inc. reported.