Case Studies

French golf protects its water supply

Water supplies during periods of drought have been secured for French golf clubs.

The Golf National, home of golf for the French Golf Federation  
Published:
2nd January 2013
Country
Categories:
Using water efficiently,Assessing progress,Using chemicals responsibly
Share:

a target of a 30% reduction in the use of irrigation water on golf courses within five years.

The French Government, French Golf Federation (FFG), French Golf Professionals Association (GPGA) and French Club Managers Association (GGGF) signed a new agreement between French golf courses, the FFG and the French Government, concerning the use of water on golf courses, on 16 September 2010. The signatories have acknowledged and agreed to work towards a target of a 30% reduction in the use of irrigation water on golf courses within five years.


As an incentive to participation in the charter, the French Government has agreed to ensure that those clubs which achieve their target reduction receive secured access to a minimum irrigation requirement for greens and tees.

Consequently, all clubs in France have already signed up to the charter. Courses are required, on an annual basis, to provide information on the total monthly volume of water used and the area of application, together with water quality reports from chemical analysis.

Through this reporting requirement, progress towards target reduction levels can be assessed over time.

Based on good data
This new agreement follows on from the original Charter which was signed in 2006. This provided French courses with the ability to water greens even at the highest level of drought alert. 

The entire negotiation process was founded on the provision of statistics on water used for irrigation across France. This included data on the areas being watered and how much water was being used by region.

Careful control of irrigation is essential to manage water consumption  

In March 2005, the French Minister for the Environment, convinced by FFG arguments that golf courses did not need an excessive quantity of water for irrigation, signed a 1 year agreement enabling golf courses to continue irrigating their greens during drought.  The summer of 2005 was hot and dry in France, yet golf courses were able to irrigate greens except for one area where the drought was such that the drinking water supply was in danger.

The success of this experiment saw the Environment Ministry, together with the Ministry for Sport, sign a 3-year Charter with the FFG and the French Golf Course Owners Association that provided for three levels of irrigation provision for golf courses during drought: initially, prohibition to irrigate during the day, then watering limited to the greens and tees, and, finally, only the greens to be watered to keep them alive.

Golf courses were committed to reducing their watering by 30% over this period and to stop using drinking water for irrigation purposes. The agreement also launched a nationwide review of water use on golf courses, providing a recording process for irrigation across France’s 550 golf courses. Questions are asked about water source, storage capability and the implementation of water use economy measures.

The table below shows the water consumption for the different areas of an 18 hole golf course of 50 hectares, with 20 hectares irrigated, and the reduced level of consumption with each level of drought restriction.

 

Water consumption (m3/year)

 

Tees
(4.6 ha)

Greens
(2 ha)

Practice area
(1 ha)

Fairway
(12.2 ha)

Average per hectare

Total
Level 1

Total
Level 2

Total
Level 3

France average

14,610

6,352

3,176

38,747

3,176

63,520

20,962

6,352

North west

14,205

6,176

3,088

37,674

3,088

61,760

20,381

6,176

North east

11,578

5,034

2,517

30,707

2,517

50,340

16,612

5,034

Centre

14,610

6,352

3,176

38,747

3,176

63,520

20,962

6,352

South east

21,666

9,420

4,710

57,462

4,710

94,200

31,086

9,420

South west

16,615

7,224

3,612

44,066

3,612

72,240

23,839

7,224

 

Securing a water supply
Summary
The golf bodies in France have shown that the game can get recognition from government when it works together, openly engages and has a desire to co-operate and provide information.  The coalition from French golf has secured water for golf course irrigation which will benefit the game and the individual businesses that rely so heavily on this precious resource to keep their priority surface, the greens, in good shape.