Repair, Recycle, Reward
Recycling is a no-brainer for the environment and society in general. How many golfers, when hearing the word recycle, immediately think about the slightly used or experienced ball bin at the pro shop? My new goal is to have golfers think about what type of water is being used to irrigate their favorite golf course. My hope is that more and more golf courses will utilize recycled water. Approximately 25 % of the 900 golf courses in California use recycled water to irrigate their courses. Utilizing a resource that for the most part is being “sent down the river” makes sense for owners trying to drought-proof their golf courses.
The golf courses inside the gates of 17-Mile Drive have been using recycled water for 12 years. Inevitably, there are times during the year when the courses have to supplement their water needs with potable water due to climatic reasons, seasonal demand, and maintenance of the wastewater facility. The Achilles heel of the recycled water conversion process is lack of storage.
Just down the street from the NCGA offices, a unique blend of private and governmental agencies have been trying to develop a solution to the problem that has been haunting them since day one: adequate water storage. This group developed an ambitious plan to solve the water shortage issue once and for all by improving the quality of the recycled water as well as refurbishing an abandoned reservoir originally built in 1887.
This new two-phase project, which featured a four-way public and private partnership and a $30 million price tag, is a 12-year testament to the resolve of agencies who provide valuable water savings for all of the communities on the Monterey Peninsula. An estimate of the potable water savings once the project is completed will be 100 million gallons a year, which will free up enough potable water to serve about 1,000 homes annually.
The original Forest Lake Reservoir built inside the Del Monte Forest in Pebble Beach near the turn of the 20th century was functional for close to 100 years. New state safety standards forced the local private water purveyor to shut down and drain the reservoir in the early 1990s. The new Forest Lake is now seismically fit and sealed with a vinyl liner which has put the finishing touches on phase one of the project. The $12.5 million facelift includes sophisticated leak detection monitoring equipment and state-of-the-art pumping equipment as well as micro-strainers for algae removal. All of the water sequestered behind the earthen dam will irrigate the eight golf courses, athletic fields, and selected landscaping inside the confines of 17-Mile Drive.
Down the hill at the Carmel Area Wastewater District treatment plant, phase two of the project has begun in the form of construction for the new buildings housing the advanced treatment equipment. The incoming wastewater will be screened with micro-filters and then further cleansed through reverse osmosis membranes. Officials predict the new treatment of the previously used water should be online in late 2007. Once fully operational, the plant will supply the recently renovated reservoir with 1.5 million gallons of “demineralized” water each day. The quality of the new wastewater will be almost as good as the clear liquid that flows through the taps in most residences.
Golf courses were considered a problem for only using water once, but courses have become the solution to the problem because they are using the precious commodity twice.
Repairing a run down reservoir which ultimately stores an improved quality of Recycled water is indeed a gain for more than just golf courses. The Reward of helping all of us who live, work, and play on the magnificent Monterey Peninsula is as refreshing as a cool drink of water.