Sunday, May 04, 2008

Las Vegas Golf Courses - More Frugal with Water than Homeowners

Since Las Vegas is now a golf destination, I thought it was appropriate to post this letter to the editor of the Review Journal. The owners of Las Vegas homes have been complaining about the recent rate increases on water. For our Las Vegas golf course communities, this rate increase is even more expensive, raising HOA dues and golf membership dues.

To the editor:

After reading Jason Wagner's Friday letter to the editor, which criticized the Review-Journal's April 20 feature on the best 18 golf holes in Las Vegas for highlighting water waste by golf courses, I feel it is important to present the facts regarding water usage and Southern Nevada's golf courses.

First and foremost, the golf industry adds almost $1 billion each year to the Nevada economy.

Golf is an integral part of any resort destination throughout this country or abroad.

Golf courses use less than 8 percent of the valley's water, and that number is shrinking due to technological advances as well as superintendents' vigilant water management. Golf courses have removed 500 acres of turf, or the equivalent of five full-size courses, in the past few years, utilizing the Southern Nevada Water Authority's Water Smart programs. Golf courses are simply the most efficient water users in any water use category. We utilize the most advanced computerized control systems in combination with on-site weather stations to adjust our water usage 365 days a year. Water is golf courses' No. 1 cost of doing business, and therefore it is imperative that we manage our water efficiently.

Golf courses spend considerable staffing resources to manage this precious and expensive liquid. An average golf course will have two to four employees whose full-time job is to manage water. The rate increase recently passed by the Las Vegas Valley Water District, which will mean an increase to an average homeowner of a few dollars a month, can mean an additional $200,000 annually or more to a golf course's bottom line. With most other business costs skyrocketing as well, we cannot pass these increases onto our customers.

Golf courses are not green because they waste water. We fertilize correctly, we airify turf correctly, we chose the correct type of turf grass, we water correctly, and we have highly trained staff to identify and fix irrigation problem areas immediately. We apply wetting agents correctly. These are expensive chemicals that help the water to penetrate our poor desert soil, or help it hold on to moisture longer.

Golf course superintendents have worked closely with the Southern Nevada Water Authority to develop water budgets for golf courses to follow to reduce water usage during this period of drought, and have significantly reduced water use along with homeowners.

The golf course industry in Las Vegas is a critical part of our tourism machine, and we must not cause irreparable harm to a huge part of our already shaky economy without looking at the facts.
P.J. McGuire
LAS VEGAS
THE WRITER IS PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTHERN NEVADA GOLF COURSE SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION

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