A Proactive Coachella Valley Water Strategy
The recent drought in Southern California is over. The Coachella Valley sits atop one of the largest aquifers in the world.
So what was all the urgency about during the recent Coachella Valley Water Strategy Meeting at Sun City Palm Desert?
Craig Kessler, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, said the SCGA and the other participating entities at the meeting know while the situation may be good now, it will certainly change. And it’s better to be proactive now than reactive later.
Representatives from the SCGA, the California Golf Course Owners Association, the Coachella Valley Golf & Water Task Force, the Hi-Lo Desert Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents’ Association of America, the Golden State Chapter of the Club Management Association of America, and the PGA of America participated in the November 22 meeting at the Mountain Vista Clubhouse to discuss ways of heading off, or otherwise dealing with impending water issues.
Kessler, who served as the primary speaker, reported on the current situation, while encouraging attendees to plan now for a future including more governmental oversight of the Coachella Valley’s water use. Climate conditions will also be a factor, he said, likely shrinking the valley’s future share of Colorado River assets.
“We’re doing this now because it’s the beginning of the season, and we’re going to be doing more of these as it goes on, that’s the rhythms of the desert,” said Kessler. “We want to use this as a kick-off. We’d like to have more people and more clubs involved, and aware of what we’re doing, so we can start getting ahead of this issue.”
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed in 2014, but to this point, the Coachella Valley has basically gotten a free ride when it comes to monitoring use or assessing penalties for non-compliance. Kessler said those days are disappearing, and golf must continue to show responsibility where water use in the valley is concerned, just as it did during the recent statewide droughts.
Many clubs and courses implemented water-saving techniques successfully then, and have continued those practices not only for the savings they realize in their water bill, but specifically to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the valley’s ground water supply.
“The state of California is doing what most other states in the southwest have done, and they’re going to manage the groundwater in a comprehensive manner in perpetuity so that these aquifers are replenished,” said Kessler. “This valley already has this plan, and other sectors have met their markers in that plan. Golf did not. That’s why we have to ramp it up.”
Because the valley’s its aquifer is so vast, and used by such a small segment of the California population, state water officials haven’t been as rigorous in monitoring the valley’s consumption. However, if that consumption continues to rise, Kessler believes Sacramento will not hesitate to impose regulations, initiate tiered pricing, and curtail pumping, among an assortment of other potential financial penalties.
“The Coachella Valley Water District is making reports to (Sacramento) that is indicating progress, and define movement in all sectors of the economy contributing to an aquifer which is in stasis,” Kessler said. “In other words, replenished; there’s as much being put in as taken out, and even added back, to restore some of what was lost a few years ago. When we have that, not only can commerce go on as it is now, it also allows for growth in all parts of the economy. And hopefully, that growth will include a few more golf courses.”
For more information on future meetings, call the SCGA at 818-980-3630 ext. 320 or 818-980-3630 ext. 302.