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How a Tucson-area golf course is working to conserve water

Ventana Canyon says it cut water use by 20,000 gallons a day
The Wilmington Municipal Golf Course is getting a complete makeover for the first time in its...
The Wilmington Municipal Golf Course is getting a complete makeover for the first time in its 90 year existence.
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 12:04 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It takes a lot of water to keep a golf course in perfect condition.

With the water supply dwindling, courses are looking to do their part.

“In the summer, we’ll easily use over a million gallons of water,” said Wally Dowe, the director of golf maintenance at Ventana Canyon.

If a million gallons a day sounds like a lot, then you’re in for another shock. The club actually has two courses so they use 2 million gallons of water each day, and that number keeps rising

“We had to water more because of our lack of rainfall,” Dowe said.

Dowe has worked at Ventana Canyon course for about 25 years and said the Monsoon has become more inconsistent.

“Ten to 20 years ago you were pretty much guaranteed July 4, it would start and you would get 4 inches in July and 4 inches in August,” Dowe said. “Us being near the mountain we would get between 12 and 14 inches of rain and last year we got 6 inches.”

Because of that inconstancy, Dowe said their water bill has skyrocketed. Though, Dowe’s not afraid of potential water restrictions, and its because of where their water comes from.

“Were on effluent water so we don’t use groundwater, our limiting restriction is cost,” said Dowe.

Dowe says he knows we’re in a drought, so they are trying to cut back on water use.

“We’ve taken turf out that we don’t deem essential areas, we’ve removed about five to six acres,” Dowe said. “It’s small compared to the grand scheme, but every little bit helps”

Dowe also said if they stopped watering the grass the proper amount, it could permanently damage the grass and force them to use ever more water to re-grow.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources said courses in Phoenix that use groundwater should reduce their total usage about 3 percent — though a group of the courses are fighting back citing that it could impact their business.

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