Water, water everywhere...but...soon...not a drop to drink...unless water guzzlers take action.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden—a 52-acre gem in one of the outer boroughs of New York City that "drinks" 21.9 million gal of water annually—is trying to do something about its giant thirst. If it succeeds, it will also be setting an example for others to follow.
The garden has a plan to install a water recirculation system that will capture up to 30 million gal of rainwater annually and greatly lessen the garden’s dependence on the greater New York fresh water supply. Under the plan, the garden would become a water sipper, reducing its guzzling by a whopping 21 million gal each year. That's a 95% drop.
There are more than 800 botanic gardens around the world. Assume, for the sake of argument, that about 700 of those are in climates with rainfall. And assume the average size is 50 acres. Imagine that each one installs a rainwater capture and recirculation system. That means a potential savings of more than 14 billion gal of potable water, annually.
Thinking about the garden made me thirsty for facts about golf-course guzzling. There are more than 35,000 golf courses worldwide. In the U.S., golf courses comprise an estimated 1,198,381 acres of irrigated turf grass, and their total annual water use, averaged over 2003, 2004 and 2005, was estimated at 2,312,701 acre-ft. (One acre-ft is the volume of water sufficient to cover an acre of land to a depth of 1 ft.) That was a few years ago, when there were 16,000 facilities. Currently, there are about 17,600.
Assume, again for the sake of argument, that about 34,000 of the world's golf courses are in climates with rainfall. That means that, with rainwater reclamation—assuming they could follow the Brooklyn model—golf courses could reduce annual water consumption by more than 90%. That's roughly slashing 4,600,000 acre-ft of water use to 460,000 acre-ft.
My numbers may not be 100% correct but my argument is spot on. There is a huge potential for big water guzzlers to conserve potable water. It's way past time for the true greening of gardens and golf courses—way past time!!!