Water Audits and Cost Savings

Posted by Craig Zellers

Water Audits and Cost SavingsMany of our clients often ask us what is the real purpose and potential cost savings by conducting a professional Water Audit, and that is a fair question. First of all when we conduct a water audit, it is a comprehensive analysis of all the components of your irrigation system which includes: Incoming Water Sources, Pump House Flows / Flow Meter Evaluation, Equipment Inventory, Hydraulics, Pressure Recordings (at night), Catch Can Tests, Central Computer (data analysis), Satellites, and Sprinklers.

The purpose of a professional water audit is to analyze all the above data and make recommendations on how to improve efficiency on your irrigation system. After the evaluation and testing, we provide you with a detailed report with specific recommendations on how to achieve cost savings, along with improving playing conditions (less dry / wet spots). Many of our clients have saved at a minimum of 5% on both water and electricity when they implement just a few of our recommendations. More often than not, it is very easily achieveable to save up to 15-20%; yet, we always aim to deliver more than we promise, so we like to be conservative when making statements regarding how much money you will actually save. The goal is to improve operating pressure, conserve water/electricity, and save you money by being more efficient with your system and irrigation practices. More importantly, all of these help the Superintendent by improving turf and soil conditions and making the course play more consistently from tee to green and hole to hole.

Understanding Distribution Uniformity (D.U)

Distribution Uniformity (D.U) is a measure of how evenly water is made available to plants over a given area. If two inches of water is applied to the front portion of a green and only one inch is applied to the back of the green that green is considered to have poor D.U. and is expressed as a percentage between 0 and 100%. Although 100% distribution uniformity is theoretically possible, it is virtually impossible to obtain in the field. A new irrigation system is expected to test around 85%. Consistent D.U. across an entire fairway or tee to green is critical for maintaining consistent conditions. The lower the D.U. the more water that is required to keep turf adaquately irrigated. More water is required to keep the drier areas green. 

Based on Studies Conducted by Cal State Poly University Irrigation and Training Center, they have concluded (which has been adopted by the Golf Industry) that the following table is a good indicator of how efficient an irrigation system is.  

Distribution Uniformity

It is our opinion that these percentages are vague and leave room for interpretation by the auditor and the client. According to our research regarding the extablishment of these percentages and performance, they were adopted in the late 1990's. At that time period golf sprinkler technology was not as good as it is today. Expectations of sprinkler performance at that time were not as high as they are now given the cost and availablity of water. Longer station run times create longer water windows and result in higher pump electricity costs. 

The Math

A professional water audit can cost between $4,500 - $8,000.00 (depending on services requested and size of course) which at first glance apprears to be a pretty penny. When Golf Irrigation Consultants conducts an audit, we give you a range, as much of the information that we provide will be based on data comparisons between what is occurring on the golf course at night, and what is programmed in the central computer. There are some superintendents who will take data that we provide and will reprogram the central computer to achieve better results, while others will want to hire Golf Irrigation Consultants to implement provided recommendations. 

Water Cost savingsThe Potential Savings

A typical golf course in Southern California is approximitely 100 acres, and will irrigate a minimum of 55" per year on bermuda grass (often more depending on location). On average, courses are paying approximitely $600.00 per acre foot of water for either potable or reclaimed water. We recognize that each course will have their unique variables depending on turf type and climates, but the above information is a broadstroke average which we see in the industry.

Based on the above information (click on photo to see the detailed data), a golf course with a D.U. of 60% will utilize up to 582 acre feet of water per year. 582 x $600.00 = $349,000.00 (*We are using very conservative numbers as many course spend $500,000.00 per year). Compared to a golf course with an average DU of 70%, in which they will use 559 acre feet of water per year. 559 x $600.00 = $335,000.00. The difference is over $14,000.00 savings per year! (the savings can be much more, but once again we want to be conservative in our estimations)

The Main Benefits of a conducting a professional Water Audit

  • Better course conditions
  • Better operating pressures (results in less run times and better D.U.)
  • Savings in water cost
  • Saves electricity cost
  • Improvement in affect of fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides

The costs of conducting a full system water audit can pay for itself within 6 months, if not  sooner! Contact us today to find out more information on the benefits of a water audit and we will be happy to go over it with you!

Golf Irrigation Consultants - 415-342-1030