A Texas golf course balanced water needs and environmental concerns with advanced pump controls.

In Texas, the hot, dry summers make water use and conservation a top priority. TPC San Antonio, a resort featuring two golf courses, sought a way to keep the grass green without harming the local ecosystem. Course management turned to an advanced irrigation system that focused on water recovery, reuse and environmental safety.

Before the resort was built, ecologists opposed the project out of concern that fertilizers in runoff would harm the Edwards Aquifer. They also worried that construction would displace local wildlife and disrupt habitats, including the 750-acre bird sanctuary bordering the resort grounds. Balancing water use requirements with these environmental concerns required an advanced irrigation system with a specialized monitoring solution.

In dry regions, advanced irrigation systems keep areas like golf courses lush and green. TPC San Antonio’s two golf courses—18 holes spanning 7,000 yards—employ a closed-loop irrigation system. This system traps runoff and drainage and redistributes it to one of 14 capture ponds. The capture ponds are then tapped for irrigation on a strict schedule that allows TPC San Antonio to maintain its golf courses while prioritizing water conservation.

Custom irrigation systemCustom irrigation system keeps golf course grass green. (Courtesy of Flowtronex)

Recovery & Reuse

Four pump stations—two reuse stations and two main irrigation stations—supply water to the resort. These pumps, along with energy-efficient controls, produce the support needed for the TPC San Antonio closed-loop irrigation system. The system was specially designed to meet the environmental concerns the resort faced.

Excess water is collected as it enters the grounds through rainfall or irrigation. The water is transferred to the basins, or retention ponds, located throughout the two courses. Once this water is captured, it is blended with freshwater during irrigation in an adjustable ratio for reuse on the courses.

Each pump station, through the irrigation control system, supplies the water needed for the grass to thrive. The control system draws water from the basins and remote wells, blending and reusing it to limit water costs. The system also prevents runoff into the aquifer and surrounding acreage.

The resort realizes additional savings through the pump station’s reporting features, which are connected to the irrigation control system. The irrigation control system monitors each course’s ongoing water use by the gallon. This data is compared with the amount of water that is scheduled to flow from the pump station. If these two numbers are drastically different at any given time, the maintenance crew can identify the problem before a large water bill arrives—or the turf dries up.

Sustainable Value

Since TPC San Antonio opened in 2010, the irrigation system has been running effectively at the resort. The course has been recognized as a model for environmental sustainability at the Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards. Both courses host PGA Tour events and are kept in tournament-ready conditions year-round with minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem.