FAST COMPANY RECENTLY REPORTED that Las Vegas golf courses have a wicked thirst. “Fact: A single, 18-hole round of golf at a typical Las Vegas golf course requires 2,507 gallons of water.” It breaks down to 139 gallons of water per hole per golfer. In an 18-hole round, a Las Vegas foursome uses as much water as a typical U.S. family uses in a month.
Las Vegas, the driest city in the nation with 4.5 inches of rain annually, has 61 golf courses, three times the number in Orlando. (That surprised me.) Golf is an important attraction in a city that never sleeps and where the days are bathed in bright sunshine.
So, how does the parched desert city find enough water for its 61 golf courses and many other uses? By being one of the most “water-smart” cities in the nation.
Water-usage habits and patterns have changed dramatically over the last two decades. For example, it’s illegal to have a front lawn in the city. Desert landscaping prevails. It’s also illegal to spray water on a sidewalk or street. The city specifies the type of hose nozzle that can be used to wash vehicles. And so on.
“The Las Vegas metro area now collects, cleans, and recycles to Lake Mead 94 percent of all water that hits a drain anywhere in the city,” reported Fast Company. “Essentially, the only water that isn’t directly recycled back to the source is the water used outdoors.”
Like golf courses. But even they have made significant progress in the area of water conservation.
Take, for instance, Angel Park, a public course. In 1996 the course was dumping 644 million gallons of purified drinking water on its fairways and greens in a 12-month period. Now it uses 376 million gallons of water annually, a 40 percent reduction. And it’s re-use water from a wastewater treatment plant, not drinking water from Lake Mead. (Problem: Due to drought-like conditions, Lake Mead is more than half empty.)
As the article pointed out, desert golf courses are no shining example of sustainability. Nonetheless, Las Vegas has been able to implement water-conservation measures to support millions of fun-seeking visitors and a population that has tripled since 1990. And it includes turning large scruffy patches of desert into a lush golf oasis.
−The Armchair Golfer
(Photo credit: Nevada Tourism Media Relations, Flickr, Creative Commons license)