Over the past 12 years, about 50 participating golf courses in the Las Vegas area have conserved more than 2 billion gallons of water, motivated by the local water authority’s conservation program.
More than 900 acres of grass have been removed from Southern Nevada golf courses in the last 12 years, conserving more than 2 billion gallons of water, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
A good percentage of the 40 million annual visitors to Las Vegas go there primarily to play golf on some of the finest courses in the country. Yet the quality of golf has not diminished as a result of grass removal from all golf course areas, except for fairways, the Review-Journal reported.
“The amount of grass that has been taken out of golf courses since we began our water conservation program is equivalent to the amount of turf that would cover nine regulation golf courses,” said Patrick Watson, conservation services administrator at the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
“About 50 golf courses have participated in our water conservation program. That includes just about all the courses in the valley, with the exception of two or three smaller facilities, where the amount of water used is almost insignificant,” Watson said.
But the removal of golf course grass has not ended by any means. Angel Park Golf Club, which consists of a 12-hole executive course and a nine-hole putting course, will be replacing another 6.5 acres of grass along fairway perimeters and common areas with water-efficient southwest foliage. According to the water authority, Angel Park already has removed 75 acres of turf in the last decade, the Review-Journal reported.
Sun City Summerlin has two regular courses and an executive course. “We have removed 85 acres of grass over the years, and we’ll be removing 6 more acres of grass this year,” said David Steinman, president of the Sun City Summerlin Board of Directors and chairman of the age-restricted community’s Golf Oversight Committee.
Steinman said the three Sun City Summerlin courses will be approaching 100 acres of turf removal after eliminating another 6 acres of grass in the next fiscal year, the Review-Journal reported.
“We have been very active participants in the water authority’s conservation program since it was initiated,” he said. “We have 1,200 lots along our golf courses. When the developer built Sun City, they put in wall-to-wall grass and sold the lots at a premium.”
Steinman said those areas are being replaced with southwestern landscaping, the Review-Journal reported.
“In the meantime, we’re saving lots of money on our water bills,” he said.
Watson said the water authority began its water conservation program in 2003 by offering rebates to those who remove grass. Under the program, the water authority pays $1.50 per square foot of grass removal for the first 5,000 square feet, then $1 for every additional square foot, the Review-Journal reported.
“As of the end of 2013, we paid out about $25 million in rebates for golf course conservation,” Watson said. “Golf courses throughout Southern Nevada have been very responsive to our request to remove grass. There’s no doubt that this has been a very successful program.”
Watson explained that golf courses use about 55 gallons of water a year per square foot, the Review-Journal reported.
“Golf course watering is very high-tech,” Watson said. “The people who operate the courses have professional irrigators on their staffs. Even though they’re using recycled water, it’s still very expensive. In fact, it’s probably the most expensive item on golf course budgets.
“Courses even maintain weather stations. They have to be very scientific and technological in their day-to-day maintenance.”