, 2022-07-15 08:06:25,
Editor’s note • This story first published on July 23, 2021. It has been updated with new data and reposted in light of Utah’s continuing water concerns and the Great Salt Lake hitting another record low.
Utah has seen yet another hot, dry summer preceded by a lot of other hot, dry summers. The Great Salt Lake hit a record low for the second year in a row. Many Utahns are surrendering on the notion of green lawns. Some municipalities are giving up on watering parks or embracing new growth.
So, is it time to give up on the idea of publicly owned golf courses, too?
Unlike a public park, golf courses appeal to a niche group of participants — predominantly white and well-off — who engage in a single activity. Only so many golfers can be on the large swaths of land at a time, and the courses are usable only under favorable weather conditions. And all those greens, fairways and tee boxes gobble up a mind-boggling amount of water.
“People are starting to look at the issue, especially with climate change,” said Alessandro Rigolon, an assistant professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah, whose research focuses on green space and environmental justice. “Golf courses are not sustainable now, and it’s going to probably get worse.”
Salt Lake County taps by far the most water for its golf courses, which include a mix of publicly owned and privately held lands, compared to other counties in the state, topping even arid Washington County, home of sunny St. George. According to U.S. Geological Survey data for 2015, the most recent year with available information, Salt Lake County golf courses used a whopping 9 million gallons a day of groundwater and surface water. To put that in perspective, it’s like refilling nearly 14 Olympic-size swimming pools daily.
“We’re trying to do everything we can [to conserve] because we are cognizant of the fact that we are big water users” said Jerry Brewster, director of golf for Salt Lake County. “We absolutely use water.”
Why golf courses can’t stop watering altogether
While the USGS information about golf course irrigation in Salt Lake County is several years old, it’s hard to gather updated data. A public records request sent to the county’s Parks and Recreation personnel in 2022 produced three years’ worth of irrigation numbers, with figures that didn’t all match information the county shared in 2021.
The consumption rates also swing wildly from year to year. In 2019, the…
To read the original article, go to Click here