While most sports clubs and golf courses in France have been affected by the implications of the hot and dry summer this year, some golf courses are starting to reap the benefit of investments they made many years ago.
The drought that had already been holding Europe in a tight grip over the past three months reached a new peak in France when the month of July turned out to be the driest month since 1958. It forced the French Government to issue a directive that prohibits the refilling of swimming pools; however, it exempts golf courses. Here, irrigation is still permitted, providing it is being done between 20:00 and 08:00 and that only 30% of the water demanded by the turf is given.
Climate activists of Extinction Rebellion Toulouse responded by filling up holes at two golf courses near the French city of Toulouse with cement. They also damaged the greens to make them unplayable. According to a local news site, this was to prevent the golf course still being used, as well as to reduce the need for watering the green at all. “It is in response to politicians continuously talking instead of making a decision,” the activists said.
In the Deux-Sèvres province, golf course management are counting their blessing following their 1998 decision to reach out to local industry. Here, they use recycled and non-potable water for irrigating the greens. “Many golf courses have their own pond, while about 5 to 10% of golf courses in France use public water,” estimates Pierre-Charles Guillerme, Director of the Bluegreen Golf Course in Mazières-en-Gâtine.
In 1998, golf clubs in Deux-Sèvres decided to cooperate with a local dairy producing company. “The Champdeniers dairy producing company discharges purified water into the Egray River for most of the year, except for the period between June and October, when this is not permitted. “This is exactly the period when we can do with extra water. That is why we had already agreed in 1998 to build a 6km-long pipeline between the plant and our golf course,” explains the Manager of the Domaine des Forges Golf Course.
The approach in Deux-Sèvres is relatively unique for France. Only 1% of water in the country is being reused. In Italy, this figure stands at 8%, while reuse of water in Spain is estimated to be 14%.
Elsewhere, the Bocage Bressuirais Golf Course has partnered directly with the water treatment plant. “We receive 200 m3 of water per day and we use 100 m3 to water the greens. Based on the humidity, we decide how much watering time the grass gets,” Hugo Gabillaud, Assistant Director of Golf explains.
”We also set the watering zones at 180 degrees to optimise the water, and only water the useful zones. Anything else is burnt.”
Water from the treatment plant is stored in a special tank. “It’s a big investment of approximately 150,000 euros, but being able to reuse the water from the treatment plant is a good thing. This water is not drinkable but good enough for watering our grass,” he adds.