Water demand in area expected to increase dramatically as population growth surges
| St. Augustine Record
The St. Johns River Water Management District has turned to golf courses as part of its efforts to reduce pressure on underground water supplies in the region.
And The Palencia Club golf course has drawn the attention of the district for its water-management efforts.
“Golf courses like The Palencia Club are proving that water-intensive recreational facilities and resource sustainability can coexist,” according to an article from the water management district. “Contrary to commonly held beliefs, recent studies show that many golf courses — especially those built or redesigned within the last decade — are among the state’s most efficient water users.”
The developer planned the course with a “sustainable design.” The Palencia Club’s efforts include using “drought-tolerant native vegetation along its fringes with a high-tech sprinkler system and minimal turf,” according to the district. The irrigation system for the 18-hole course mostly draws its from an 18-acre pond.
“Most of the water used to irrigate the course is recycled by capturing stormwater runoff in the pond and pumping it to the irrigation system,” according to the district. “A backup well provides water during dry spells but is rarely needed.”
The irrigation system software allows David Levin, director of the course grounds, to control each irrigation head, he said.
“As we can cut back on our water it also cuts back on our electricity bill,” Levin said.
The District ― a state agency that protects long-term water supply and water health in Northeast Florida and beyond ― encourages golf courses to use less water.
To reduce the demand on drinking water, “the district requires golf courses to use the lowest-quality water available for irrigation,” according to the article.
“Our regulatory staff have successfully worked with many golf courses, such as Palencia Club, to convert water used for irrigation from potable water to reclaimed water, stormwater, or both,” Paula Presley, a hydrologist with the district’s Bureau of Water Use Regulation, said in an article featured on the district’s website. “Since 2000, the district has issued about 200 consumptive use permits (CUPs) to golf courses and required all of them to incorporate water-conserving practices.”
Florida’s underground aquifers support the public water supply. While the aquifers collect rain, “Fickle weather cycles with abundant rain followed by drought cannot replace the millions of gallons of water that are used daily by a growing population,” according to the District. “Although Florida receives an average of 50 to 55 inches of rain per year, about 65 percent of that evaporates.”
Officials are working to deal with an expected increase in water demand over the next 15 years.
The North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan for 2015-2035 from the North Florida Regional Water…