Burks: Reader offers alternative to watering course

Posted 7/12/21

As you all have read, the Arizona Department of Water Resources has been publishing phases to redistribute water usage over the past 40 years.

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Burks: Reader offers alternative to watering course


As you all have read, the Arizona Department of Water Resources has been publishing phases to redistribute water usage over the past 40 years.

If you’re daring enough, you can review the phases that have been published and implemented over the past several decades. What you will find is golf courses are barely mentioned and the only mention that I could find is that a golf course today cannot exceed 95 acres.

As you can imagine, there are directions for farming, cattle, mining etc., the major uses of water in Arizona. As the drought continues (NOAA has us in an extreme drought pattern) water becomes less and less available, hence our golf course leaders and general manager have published information surrounding grass that uses less water.

We have seven golf courses that were built decades ago and nearly all of them exceed the 95-acre limit, as with Grandview at 165 acres. There have been discussions and obviously some estimates to reduce the size of the golf courses at a cost of $5-6 million. I also had our general manager tell me that we would be grandfathered in and no need to worry.

Well, since that conversation you have seen articles on how the course grass can be changed to use less water. But come on, if the ADWR enforces the 95-acre limitation, or just flat out reduces the amount of water we will be allotted to water the courses, we will be spending millions of dollars reducing the size of the courses, as well as coming up with a plan to create some type of landscaping project to make the reduction areas more pleasing to look at.

I proposed the following plan that was immediately dismissed, as they are ready to spend $5-6 million of your money to save all seven golf courses that do not pay for themselves, and again used by non-residents.

If for conversation sake, you looked at Grandview with 165 acres, 1. Sell off the Grandview golf course. 2. Create a 100-foot greenbelt that would run behind the homes that face the course. Yes, I know you paid extra to be on the course, but no one told you it would be there forever and hopefully a tasteful greenbelt with a walking path may be  better than golf balls bouncing off your windows. 3. Sell off the remaining acreage to a developer. I assume we would have more than 100 acres to work with, after the greenbelt is created. 4. One hundred acres at a conservative $50,000 per acre grosses $5 million. 5. Take the $5 million to redo the aging other six golf courses (water lines, more and smarter watering technology as well as some thought to the labor it costs to maintain the courses with autonomous mowers, etc.). 6. Build more facilities that have become more popular with new residents, such as pickleball. 7. The 100 acres would also create 400 new homes, which will create approximately $400,000 in new annual dues and in a one-time bump of $1.4 million asset preservative fee assessment on the new homes being sold. Yes, we also would have 800 new residents to use the facilities.

Keep in mind the general manager would not even consider this idea.

The golf courses are financial losers. However, we are a golf community. But do we need seven golf courses? Do you want to spend $5-6 million to reduce the size of the courses, which will probably dramatically increase annual dues? Or create a $6.4 million revenue stream to modernize and improve?

We need some transparency on the water situation. I know the golf course leaders are dragging their feet hoping the ADWR will be kind to the golf courses and leave us alone. Do you really believe this is going to happen? Do you think our annual rainfall amounts are going to change?

You all see the new homes being built. Do you think the ADWR is going to allot water for golf courses and not the new homes and businesses being built in the Valley? Take a drive down Loop 303 toward I-17 and see a $35 billion computer chip factory being built (with all the jobs and homes that brings). Do you think their water needs will be curtailed so we can water our golf courses?

We need to be proactive and create a golf course water plan now and not wait until we are under the gun. Why not be responsible residents and do right thing, or do what we have done thus far and stick our heads in the sand and hope the annual rain amounts increase. The ADWR will understand we need seven golf courses that are dramatically more than their published acreage limits or just get ready dramatically for the $5-6 million spend and a dues increase.

I suggest you email the new board president, Sue Fitzsimons, who takes over in July to get a committee together to get this urgent matter reviewed and a plan created.

Terry Burks

Sun City West