Water Conservation Sustaining golf in Arizona is a complex and controversial subject. 95% of our state is in severe to exceptional drought conditions with little end in sight. Yet, the contribution of golf to Arizona’s economy is undeniable and growing with golf’s resurgence. Debbie Johnson, Director of AZ’s Office of Tourism was quoted in a December 2020 AZ golf industry survey as saying “Golf is core to the state’s tourism activity. The sport’s impact goes beyond just golf courses, it also impacts the broader tourism industry including resorts, hotels, restaurants and bars, and general retail activity.” The industry survey explains golf related water use is only 2% of total statewide use (73%+ for crop irrigation) but fully drives $4.6B in estimated economic activity, making it “a wise investment.” Nevertheless, FOPRG directors are keenly aware that Pusch Ridge Golf Course (PRGC) is currently relegated to using potable water because extending access to reclaimed water proved cost prohibitive. This makes PRGC’s water use a uniquely divisive issue in Oro Valley. FOPRG directors are committed to advocating for all practical water conservation measures to be considered and implemented. To that end, FOPRG recently facilitated a meeting between golf agronomist and Friend, Harold Vaubel, premier golf course architect, Forrest Richardson, and Town of OV leaders. Both near-term turf and water reducing measures, including some recommended by the USGA, as well as long-term redesign of the PRGC to a more sustainable (and competitive) short course were discussed. FORPR must rely on the experts and public officials to implement cost-effective potable water conservation measures until such time a creative financing strategy to bring reclaimed water to PRGC can be devised. Until then, FOPRG will continue its advocacy, not allowing PRGC stakeholders to lose sight of our environmental and fiscal responsibility to find a sustainable solution to water use at PRGC.
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