Golf's looming crisis: How to keep the water flowing

In putting together Golf Inc.'s recent State of the Industry survey (August 2008) editors wanted to know what key issues participants thought would most impact the golf business in the coming year.As expected, hot-button topics like the current economic slump, rising operations costs and the housing meltdown were at the top of the list of concerns.But one issue that drew higher than expected short-term worry was one we're hearing voiced more often these days: water.Every segment of the golf industry today is concerned about water. It's truly the lifeblood for golf. No wonder then, that Golf Inc. readers are worried that the increasing competition for precious water resources-not only in the United States but all over the globe-has serious long-term implications for our industry.As part of our commitment to helping the industry find solutions for its defining issues, Golf Inc. will be putting increased focus on water and waterrelated topics in the months ahead. That effort will assume an even higher profile at a special "Critical Issues" panel at the upcoming Golf Inc. Conference at the Camelback Resort Sept. 29-Oct. 1 in Scottsdale, Ariz."Solving the Water Crisis-Best Practices" will offer a wide-ranging array of strategies that will focus not just on conservation efforts but on cutting-edge policies such as nutrient credit creation and trading that hold the potential for allowing operators to generate revenue through expanded use of treated water.With industry leaders such as John Crowder of ValleyCrest Golf Course Maintenance and Charlie Birney, president of the National Golf Course Owners Association, participating, it promises to be one of the most provocative and informative sessions at the conference.To keep the conversation about water at the forefront of the industry, Golf Inc. also will provide links to water-related stories on our Web site, with an idea toward encouraging reader feedback and discussion of water-related topics.Fortunately, more golf industry professionals are recognizing the need to become proactive when it comes to water. Through practices that include using grasses that need less water, installing new high-tech irrigation equipment, implementing water management practices for irrigation and tapping new sources for irrigation, the industry is moving toward more responsible environmental stewardship when it comes to water use.Our recent Green Awards Competition produced example after example of what individual courses, operators and developers are doing to reduce water usage and to conserve existing water supplies.For instance, Gozzer Ranch and Lake Club in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, has its own wastewater treatment plant that recycles up to 45 million gallons of water per year for its golf course. And the developer sand-capped golf course turf areas, reducing runoff and ensuring that fertilizers are filtered through the roots of the turf rather than processed through the stormwater system.At The Golf Club at Rainmakers in Alton, N.M., community association rules require every residence to install and maintain water capture systems that are used to irrigate the 800 square feet of landscaping for each unit.The future of golf depends on the wise use of our water resources. We pledge to do our part by focusing a consistent spotlight on what each of us can do to preserve and enhance the longterm sustainability of those resources.

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