I believe within 20 years water will be a commodity regardless if it is in your lake, well, or in-ground. You will be allocated X number of units of water for your particular area. There is speculation that gasoline is going to be $4.50 a gallon by this summer. This will have an enormous impact on every single activity that we all do, but I still think that buying every single drop of water will be more dramatic.
With that being said, managing water … while most of us think it is critical now … will become one of the first things we think of when we program our irrigation cycles.
Having real-time information that sensors like UGMO can provide will not be optional, but mandatory for you to put the water where it needs to be, and when it needs to be there. Irrigation systems will either be minimalistic, like one high-profile club that will be hosting the Open in a couple of years and has recently taken this approach; or if a club demands to be manicured the head count will skyrocket. The more heads you have the less water you use. The heads will be low pressure, low volume. Pump stations will be robust so that you can put down small amounts of water in an area, but you’ll be able to run 130, 150, even 200 at one time. You will need to keep the water in approximation of the roots; not an issue in a push up green, but hugely problematic in a sand base green. Irrigation systems will have more control over the watering via sensor information than you can even imagine. As the cost of sensors comes down, I think it is conceivable that each irrigation head will come equipped with a sensor. The sensor will tell the head that the moisture availability is still adequate, and in spite of what you might think, the head will not turn on until the sensors say otherwise.
Perhaps green construction will change. We might build greens that have greater holding capacities. I am sure that someone will try a hydroponic green. I know I am amazed at the vegetable yields my one hydroponic tree produces. It seems crazy, but conceivable that someone would build a green in a water-tight chamber, flood the chamber from the bottom, and let the water wick to the surface. You certainly wouldn’t have to worry about evaporation; flood irrigation is infinitely less expensive to deliver the water than via rotary heads. Once again, the sensor would only leave water in and out via an electric valve predicated on necessary availability.
Leak detection will be critical, with isolation valves that may be electric with a sensor that understands that there is NO program running; yet, we have too much flow and shut that lateral off automatically.
Water storage could very well be underground, where there is greater holding capacity, in rubber-lined bags that keep the water colder and you lose no water to evaporation. Reverse osmosis will be much more cost effective with smaller more energy efficient units available for home use.
One might ask, where did you come up with all this? These water regulation ideas are a result of going through several severe droughts. After going through droughts, I am amazed by several things; how resilient grass can be; how I use to not worry about water usage and I took a critical resource for granted, but no anymore.
From my perspective, and that is all this is, managing water will be paramount, not optional. Have a great summer and may none of us have to go through a prolonged drought this coming year.
You can contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org