Wireless repeaters installed throughout the golf course relay valuable data to a central computer, allowing for more accurate irrigation. In the background is the 30,000-gallon rainwater-harvesting tank, which waters the surrounding landscape.
Tim Cervantes, of The Cochise Water Project, explains the benefits of a weather station to golf course superintendent Derek Stanley, right. The course has two of its own weather stations.
Golf course superintendent Derek Stanley analyses data regarding soil temperature, moisture content, and salt levels, on each of the 18 fairways.
A major, three-year project aimed at saving millions of gallons of water has finally been realized at Pueblo Del Sol Golf Course.
The completion of the $275,000 effort will be marked with a ribbon cutting and open house on Monday at 1p.m.
Funded by The Cochise Water Project (TCWP), a local non-profit dedicated solely to saving water within the Sierra Vista sub watershed, the venture means Pueblo Del Sol is now one of the country’s leading golf courses in terms of conservation.
The project began after TCWP approached the golf course managers about introducing water savings measures.
The idea was met with enthusiasm and resulted in a 30,000-gallon rain tank being installed next to the putting practice green.
Water running off the adjacent tennis courts is used to feed nearly two acres of landscaping.
“When it rained heavily the excess water from the tennis courts used to flood the nearby golf cart area,” explained TCWP’s administrative director Tim Cervantes.
An underground tank was installed to capture the run off, which is then pumped into the rainwater tank when it becomes full. Water used to wash the golf carts also flows back into the tank to be reused for landscaping needs.
“Since the tanks were installed, there hasn’t been any flooding problems,” Cervantes noted.
Focus then turned to the circular lawn at the entrance to the clubhouse, which needed 39 gallons per square foot, per year, to maintain the grass.
TCWP funded the installation of 860 square feet of artificial turf, which is the second largest commercial project it has undertaken in Sierra Vista – the first was at City Hall.
“It looks awesome,” commented Wayne Arndt, assistant golf course superintendent. “In fact, people think it’s real.”
The final and biggest part of the project took the form of smart irrigation controllers to help manage the amount of water being used to feed the 18-hole course.
With the help of Tucson-based manufacturer Rain Bird, a new integrated soil sensor system was introduced.
Thirty-eight sensors were installed on each fairway, four inches into the ground, to monitor soil temperature, moisture, and salt content.
The sensors send data to nearby loggers, which in turn send the information to repeaters, an electronic device that receives and retransmits the data to a central control computer.
This allows Arndt and golf course superintendent Derek Stanley to closely monitor each of the 18 holes and more accurately determine irrigation needs.
Coupled with information provided by two weather stations, along with long-range weather forecasts, Stanley and Arndt are armed with the kind of information that many of the nationally acclaimed courses would be clamoring for.
“As far as we know, we’re the only course using this technology on all 18 holes,” Arndt said. “Rain Bird has not installed that many sensors before.”
Every sprinkler head on 15 holes now has its own controller, allowing the course managers to fine tune the watering process. Since being installed in September last year, Stanley has noticed a big difference.
“It’s dried the course out quite a bit,” he said. “We don’t hear as many complaints from golfers about the course being wet, and we’ve definitely seen the water savings.”
It is estimated the entire project will save 41 acre-feet (about 13.4 millions of gallons) annually, which is currently a 10 percent decrease in water use. The goal is to increase that number to 20 percent as Stanley and Arndt become more attuned to the new system.
“It’s also reduced the irrigation time,” added Arndt. “We’re getting the watering done earlier and we’re finding that each hole is different and has its own microclimate.”
On Monday, TCWP will host a ribbon cutting, conducted by the Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce, and open house at 1 p.m. at Pueblo Del Sol Golf Course, which the public is invited to.
The event will include information tents for TCWP, Water Wise, Oasis Water Harvesting, and Rain Bird.
There will be a putting contest, with gifts cards for the pro shop as prizes, along with a free raffle to win a rainwater-harvesting barrel and other items.
“This has been a huge undertaking for both the golf course and The Cochise Water Project,” said Cervantes. “We are really pleased to see the completion of another project that will save valuable water in our community and we hope the public will join us to celebrate that, and to learn more about how to save water.”
To find out more about TCWP and how you can help reduce your water usage visit www.thecochisewaterproject.com