Southern Nevada water conservation aided by golf courses and other sports

Anthem Country Club had already partially closed its golf course to renovate the greens when officials realized they had to take even greater steps in light of new regulations proposed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

So Anthem’s board elected to shut down the entire course and go into compliance.

Anthem’s decision to take this step is one of many taken by local sporting entities to help southern Nevada conservation efforts in light of the declining water level of Lake Mead that has alarmed everyone. southwest and Mexico.

“It’s bigger than Anthem Country Club,” golf club superintendent James Symons said. “The board realizes that, so they really bought into the idea of ​​getting in there quickly and trying to get ahead as quickly as possible.”

Lake Mead, the main source of water for Las Vegas, six neighboring states and parts of Mexico, has dropped about 25 feet this year.

The water authority has taken several steps over the past 20 years to address the situation and continues to be proactive in preventing the crisis from worsening.

Local sports play an important role, and while golf courses are the most prominent in water conservation efforts, they are not the only ones.

Preparations for the Super Bowl

NFL Green, the league’s environmental arm, is working with local officials ahead of Super Bowl 2024 at Allegiant Stadium. As NFL Green manager Jack Groh said the organization can’t do much to directly improve water conservation efforts, but an information campaign could be quite effective given that this game will attract fans from all over the country.

Part of that campaign could be as simple as reminding visitors to hang towels to reduce laundry loads or shorten their showers. Then, Groh said, those fans can take that message home with them.

“Anything we can do to spread this message and say it may be a slight inconvenience now, but if Lake Mead drops another 20 feet it won’t be an inconvenience,” Groh said. “It’s going to be an absolute disaster.”

NFL Green was made aware of the water issue when he was here earlier this year. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority brought together NFL Green with the water authority and UNLV.

“It’s on their radar now,” said Nancy Lough, co-director of UNLV’s sports research and innovation initiative. “It’s definitely something they’ll consider when they come back and engage with us in Las Vegas in the future. So, in my opinion, this is a great opportunity for UNLV, for those in of us in the community who care about sustainability and education and awareness primarily through sports to help people understand the need for water conservation.

NFL Green already made an impact during the draft in Las Vegas in late April, introducing water refill stations that Groh said reduced plastic bottle use by 53,000 over the three days. Groh acknowledged the effort was more about waste than water conservation, but it still underscored NFL Green’s mission and will be enforced when the Pro Bowl returns to Las Vegas next year.

Other sports respond

Groh said NFL Green is working with the Raiders on prep ideas for the 2024 Super Bowl. The Las Vegas NFL team plays on Bermuda grass at Allegiant Stadium. This grass is drought resistant and requires less watering.

The Aviators moved to Bermuda at the Las Vegas Ballpark, and the amount of watering was significantly reduced.

The reclaimed water is used for ice at the Golden Knights and Silver Knights training facilities. Former Golden Knight Ryan Reaves, of course, was once the face of the water authority’s advertising campaign; his popular advertisements helped highlight the importance of water conservation.

The water authority oversaw the conversion of 29 high school football pitches to grass and upgraded seven other grass pitches. The Clark County School District received $7.4 million in incentive rebates, and the authority’s actions save $1 million a year in water use, according to the agency.

Next, the authority will work with the school district to convert six baseball and softball fields to grass with the long-term goal of changing all fields.

“With the pandemic and the absence of sports (for about a year), there really was a great opportunity for us and the school district to work together on water conservation,” said the spokesperson for the authorities. , Damon Hodge.

The authority is also working with UNLV to convert its baseball and softball fields from turf to turf.

Key to the golf courses

However, no sport is more dependent on grass and water than golf, and courses in the region are advised to reduce their water allowance from 6.3 acre feet per year to 4.0 by January 2024.

“For a lot of courses it’s a massive hit, Anthem being one of them,” Symons said. “You can’t do this overnight.”

It is also a big financial commitment.

Anthem is spending around $1.6 million to change the Ryegrass fairways to Bermuda grass in addition to money already committed to renovating the greens and switching to a more efficient irrigation system.

“We understand that this will have an impact on (golf course) operations,” Hodge said. “We are aware of these concerns. At the same time, the goal is to ensure water security today and in the future. Every aspect of our community – residential, commercial – plays a part in this. and these things are not done in a vacuum or blindly.

Many golf courses already meet the new standards, according to statistics from water authorities, and Hodge said those that go over the water budget “incur higher charges”. But he said that hadn’t happened in about a decade.

Officials of the two most prominent courses – Shadow Creek and TPC Summerlin – said conservation methods were already in place.

At Shadow Creek, the lush private course that has hosted an LPGA Tour game and other notable events, drip irrigation reduces water use by up to 30 percent, according to an official. Soil sprays help prevent water from dissipating, and sensors regularly monitor soil moisture.

“Our Social Impact and Sustainability Platform outlines our commitment to environmental stewardship and improving the lives of employees, guests and the communities in which we operate,” said a spokesperson for MGM Resorts. , owner of Shadow Creek. “This includes efforts to reduce water use at Shadow Creek.”

TPC Summerlin, home of the Shriners Children’s Open, began a renovation in April, changing the fairway grass from a hybrid Bermuda to Bandera Bermuda. Bentgrass Greens are replaced with Dominator, a combination of two types of Bentgrass.

“Over time and research, we have identified a tougher type of grass,” TPC Summerlin general manager Brian Hawthorne said last December.

The future

The sport doesn’t play the most vital role in water conservation, but it does have its part, mirroring the surrounding southern Nevada community through the removal of grass for a more desert look.

UNLV’s Lough is concerned about going too far, saying a “heat map” can also be a major problem if there aren’t enough trees and grass to provide a more cooling effect.

The trend, however, is to aggressively find ways to conserve water so Lake Mead levels don’t continue to drop.

Las Vegas also continues to grow, as does its place in the sports world. The city is already home to NFL, NHL, and WNBA teams as well as a Triple-A baseball club and several minor sports.

Major League Baseball could be on the way with the Oakland Athletics considering a move here, and an arena will be built south of the Strip that could house a future NBA team.

“I don’t think (the water crisis) will stop people from moving (to) or staying in Las Vegas, and some of that isn’t necessarily positive,” Lough said. “It’s partly because I think a lot of people really don’t understand the importance of this issue.”

Hodge said the region, however, has shown it can absorb a growing population and sports scene while properly dealing with water scarcity.

“We have proven in the past that we can grow our economy and enjoy a great quality of life by reducing water consumption,” Hodge said, “and the important thing is to make sure we continue to do so. TO DO.”

Contact journalist Mark Anderson at [email protected] Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

Michael C. Ford