Irrigation performance guarantee

The irrigation brain trust broke the mold with a performance guarantee at Paradise Valley Country Club, AZ
(This article is from The USGA Green Section Record vol. 48, no. 24)
by Rob Collins, Brent Harvey, Jim Wright, Dr. Paul Brown

Several years ago, we exceeded our state water allocation and were facing possible fines. We set a goal to reduce water use by a robust 76 acre-feet (AF), a target that we felt was achievable if irrigation performance was substantially improved. However, green committee members at Paradise Valley Country Club (PVCC) wanted a guaranteed performance level, but such a guarantee had never been considered before among industry professionals. Irrigation designers, manufacturers, and researchers were challenged to forgo industry standards and guarantee an elevated level of efficiency.

The solution seemed simple enough; reduce irrigated turf, improve efficiency, and meet the water allotment. In 2006, the facility used 620 AF of water on 122 acres of turf, or 5.1 acre-feet/acre (AF/A). This total exceeded the water allotment by about 40 AF. As we began to evaluate potential solutions, more questions were raised. For example, how does irrigation efficiency affect water use? If we improve the efficiency by 10, 15 or even 20%, how much water is saved? How much turf can we remove without negatively impacting the design and character of the course? These were questions we were unable to answer ourselves, so we sought professional advice from Brent Harvey, Harvey Mills Irrigation Design; Jim Wright, Toro Irrigation; and Dr. Paul Brown, University of Arizona. See how this project turned out.