Golf Course Irrigation with Reclaimed Water in the Mediterranean: A Risk Management Matter
Received: 27 February 2012 / Revised: 26 March 2012 / Accepted: 26 March 2012 / Published: 11 April 2012
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Controversy regarding the amount of water consumed or saved as a result of human activity is currently paramount in water-scarce areas. In recent decades, golf—a land and water consuming activity—has been implanted in several areas of the Mediterranean basin, where the scarcity
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Controversy regarding the amount of water consumed or saved as a result of human activity is currently paramount in water-scarce areas. In recent decades, golf—a land and water consuming activity—has been implanted in several areas of the Mediterranean basin, where the scarcity of water resources is well-known. As a result, the use of conventional water resources for golf course irrigation is increasingly contested and its replacement by reclaimed water has become essential. This paper examines the wide range of issues involved in its use on golf courses, including hazards—due to the presence of microorganisms and pollutants—and the corresponding risks that can appear. The resulting biological, chemical and physical water quality concerns are analyzed. Legal aspects related to the use of reclaimed water are also discussed and good reuse practices are suggested, including a detailed examination of risk assessment procedures and tools through observation or chemical, physical and microbiological analysis. The HACCP system—which focuses on quality determination in water samples from relevant control points—is described in detail, as it is generally accepted as one of the most scientific ways to detect health problems on a golf course. The paper concludes that, given the increasing availability of treated and reclaimed water and the water needs of golf courses, the future development of the sport in areas without surplus water resources—such as the Mediterranean basin—will predictably depend upon the use of reclaimed water. In recent years, risk assessment or analysis has emerged as an essential tool to guarantee the application of reclaimed water at an acceptable risk level. There certainly have been considerable advances and improvements in the tools that guarantee the safe use of reclaimed water, although current methods available require simplification for their practical application. Nevertheless, protocols applied at present seem to be adequate in order to address the key issue of enhancing the development of reclaimed water use on golf courses.