Published on 04/18/02

Reuse Water Could Help Fight Drought

Searching for ways to beat the state's drought, University of Georgia scientists and Extension Service agents are exploring ways to reuse water for irrigation.

"Reusing treated municipal wastewater is a more widely accepted practice, especially for large turf areas like golf courses, recreational facilities and parks," said Wayne Gardner, coordinator of the UGA Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture.

"It's a method of recycling a very important natural resource," he said.

The state's Environmental Protection Division is moving several golf courses to use reuse water for their irrigation.

Mandated Switches

EPD is mandating, Gardner said, that courses in the upper Chattahoochee River basin with a certain type of surface water withdrawal permit must switch to reuse water.

"This is not an immediate conversion," he said. "But several courses will have to be on board with reuse water within 10 years."

Georgia's golf course and landscape professionals are working with EPD officials and local governments to tap this source of irrigation water.

"Urban agricultural industries are water-dependent," Gardner said. "I find them to be very proactive in finding alternative, efficient and environmentally friendly means of doing business."

Reuse Water Symposium

UGA scientists, county agents and researchers and representatives of the state's golf courses and water authorities will debate the issue next month during a reuse water symposium.

"Reuse Water: Opportunities and Challenges" is set for May 29 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences campus in Griffin, Ga. The symposium will bring in a number of experts on the issue.

"We plan to throw this issue out on the platter, not make any judgement calls, and have everyone come and speak from different viewpoints," Gardner said.

Experts from Florida

The program will include experts from central Florida, where golf courses are using reuse water. "These speakers will be able to present the reality of reuse water," Gardner said.

"Our keynote address will be by Stephen Draper, a water-policy advisor to Gov. Roy Barnes," he said. "And we'll have speakers from EPD, a local water authority, the environmental community and others."

The event should attract water treatment facility managers and potential reuse water customers. City and county officials, regulators and others with environmental and water-policy interests will want to be there.

The $40 fee (or $50 after May 22) covers lunch and other costs. To sign up, or to learn more, call the Griffin Campus Office of Continuing Education at (770) 229-3477.

Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.