Desalinization System

Water conservation is the single most important factor on golf courses that face limited water shortages and/or poor water quality. Golf courses may reduce their water demand by reducing 1) the amount of hectares they water, 2) reduce the amount of water that the irrigated turf receives, and 3) switch to alternative water supplies like effluent water (non-potable).

Photograph 1. Salt water is pumped up into the desalinzation system The Breakers Golf Club, Palm Beach Florida)

In a few limited situations some golf courses have installed desalination systems (reverse osmosis) that remove salt form salt water. The process consists of pumping water from the sea or a salty water aquifer through a series of 20 foot white tubes containing membranes that can physically separate the salt from the water which is often treated to help reduce corrosion and increase longevity of the membranes. The treated water is then pumped to a large water holding tank (example 30,000 gallons) that is either located above or below ground. In some cases the water is pumped into an irrigation pond. Whether in a large tank or pond the water is then used for golf course irrigation.

Photograph 2. Series of 20 foot pipes containing membranes where the salt water is treated The Breakers Golf Club, Palm Beach Florida)

The efficiency of the system varies but ranges from 65 to 70 percent of the water being used for golf course irrigation. The remaining water called concentrate (brine water) is unsuitable because of the high concentrated salt content. The concentrate is either pumped back into the sea or to the original water source or stored in a pond on the golf course.

Photograph 3. The treated water is placed-in this case- in an irrigation pond (The Breakers Golf Club, Palm Beach Florida)

The advantages to a desalinization system is a supply of water that is low in salt content (normally has the salt concentration of normal drinking water), and a steady supply of water that does not require the golf course to comply with general water restrictions. The disadvantages to the system is the initial cost (~ 1 million to 4 million dollars (US)), approximately 50,000 dollar (US) maintenance fees annually, the energy cost to run the system, and disposing of the concentrate, and normally limited to locations along a sea or ocean.

Although desalination use on golf courses is restricted either by the cost or limited due to close proximity to a salt water source, the process of reverse osmosis has grown globally.


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