Coachella Valley Water District looks to speed efforts to take golf courses off groundwater

The Coachella Valley Water District plans to accelerate efforts to connect golf courses to pipes carrying a mix of recycled water and Colorado River water, a change that would lessen pumping from wells and reduce pressures on the underground water supply.

The water district’s board took the stance this week following a series of articles in which The Desert Sun documented significant long-term declines in groundwater levels despite efforts to replenish the aquifer using imported water.

CVWD board members also are proposing other changes, including establishing an annual “scorecard” that would track the district’s progress in addressing the problem of overdraft – the pumping of more water from wells than is returned into the ground.

With water supplies under stress, board members expressed frustration during Tuesday’s meeting at several years of delays in connecting golf courses to pipes carrying Colorado River water and reclaimed sewage. While 19 of the valley’s 124 golf courses receive treated sewage for irrigation, and some others receive Colorado River water, most of the golf courses still pump groundwater from wells.

On average, each course uses roughly 1,000 acre-feet per year, or 325 million gallons. That’s enough water for more than 1,400 homes.

“There’s got to be some way that we can get these golf courses to hook up, use that Colorado River water, canal water, instead of using the aquifer,” board member Ed Pack said during the meeting. “I don’t know what the answer is, but there has got to be some way that this board, with the cities and with all the public pressure from the people, could have them use it.”

“Everybody’s talking about the golf courses. They use so much water,” Pack said. He said that following The Desert Sun’s recent articles, several people asked him what the water district could do to shift more courses to other water supplies.

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