11 Aug 2008

Holes in One or Two or Three

This story describes the "desperate" measures golf courses are taking to keep their lawns green, i.e., drilling holes to pump groundwater.

The sad thing is not that they are coming up dry (that's funny), but that there are no regulations to restrict pumping if they did hit water. In other words, the absence of regulation, monitoring, measurement or rights to groundwater means that anyone who sinks a well can "rob Peter to pay Paul," i.e., golf courses can reduce their surface deliveries (by the 30% required) by taking underground that belongs to everyone. NOT a solution.

California's 900 golf courses claim to employ 160,000 workers (that's 180 people/course) and generate $7 billion in economic activity (that's $7.8 million/course).* To generate this activity, they use one percent of the State's water.

Compare these figures to agriculture, which uses 75 percent of the State's water and employs 380,000 workers to produce $32 billion in output food.**

Is it ok to use that much water if you're producing food instead of birdies and bogies?

Bottom Line: Golf courses are trying to survive in strange ways because they are facing mandatory rationing. Water markets would allow them to buy water instead of desperately sinking holes into community water supplies.

* Taking those two numbers together, we get $44,000/worker, which is either low (are they claiming more jobs than they should?) or reflects how little golf course employees are paid.

** That's a higher return per worker ($84,000) but a LOT more water.

hattip to DW

1 comment:

  1. I love golf, and I'm sure it can be environmentally friendly. I assume they pull it off in Scotland.

    But a relative of mine is moving to La Quinta, CA, near Palm Springs, and I was looking at the area in Google Maps. The number of golf courses in the middle of the desert is just ridiculous.


    Notice the courses apparently grown with water from native-american wells.


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