May 17, 2016 – Sending seven shovels of dirt flying in unison, Pasatiempo Golf Club kicked off an $8.5 million irrigation project on Wednesday to reroute Scotts Valley Water District’s treated wastewater to its fairways, after an additional on-site purification process.
‘It’s the ultimate win-win for everybody,’ Pasatiempo General Manager Scott Hoyt said before an audience of a couple dozen during a groundbreaking ceremony just north of the 13th hole, near Sims Road. “There’s a commodity going down Graham Hill Road into the Pacific Ocean that certainly, at this point in time, has no value. But we had a need for it.’
Plans for such a project have circulated, paused and been revived regularly since at least the mid-1980s, officials said. The drought, and particularly Santa Cruz’s mandate to the golf course to reduce water use 50 percent in 2014, put the effort on the fast track, however, officials said. In the lead-up, state regulatory restrictions on reusing wastewater limited the project’s progress, but by the most recent iteration of the project “no one didn’t want this to happen,’ Hoyt said.
The new water supply agreement, signed in March between Scotts Valley and Pasatiempo will provide the golf club with about 60 to 70 percent of its annual needed irrigation water for 30 years, said Pasatiempo golf course superintendent Justin Mandon. The remaining water will come as a mix of well water and continued supply from municipal Santa Cruz water.
Pasatiempo will pay the city of Scotts Valley nearly $1.6 million, divided into equal installments, during the first five years of water use. Part of those funds will be redistributed to the water district, per an agreement between the two.
Once work on a new mostly subterranean 500,000-gallon water holding tank and treatment facility is completed ‚ early estimates have targeted a May 2017 due date ‚ the golf club will reduce significantly its reliance on city of Santa Cruz drinking water, to the tune of about a 40 million gallon annual savings, Hoyt said. The course requires up to 300,000 gallons of water each day for the 64-acre course and expects about 150,000 to 200,000 gallons of that would come from reclaimed water.
“The Water Department supports Pasatiempo’s efforts 100 percent,’ Santa Cruz Water Director Rosemary Menard said Wednesday. “They are one of our biggest customers, so we will feel it financially, but in the big picture, it’s absolutely the right thing to do.’
Scotts Valley Mayor Donna Lind said she thought it was unfortunate that after many years of discussing such an irrigation project, it took the most recent drought and “facing reality’ to push the matter forward.
“This isn’t something that is just Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz or Pasatiempo,’ Lind said. “It’s a regional concern that we need to find ways to think about resources and work together. This partnership is a step in thinking about the future and not having wasted water.’
Back when the Scotts Valley Water District updated its infrastructure in the 1970s to pipe treated wastewater out to the ocean, valves allowing for the golf course’s use of the water were included.
“There’s no infrastructure needs out there. We do have to put a valve back into the pipe,’ Hoyt said before the ceremony. “The original engineer, he knew that this was going to be a distinct possibility. He put all these valves in the road, and Scotts Valley pulled all the valves out because it slowed down the flow and they went, ‘Oh, they’re never going to do that.’’