Valley Voices

Harry Cline: The color purple could keep Valley green

The ominous solution to California’s water crisis seems to be turning the green Golden State into brown California.

One far better solution is to add color to the picture; the color purple. Purple is the color of PVC pipe that carries recycled water or tertiary treated water to irrigate urban parks, golf courses, landscape around large buildings and the like. Tertiary treatment filters waste water to remove solids that remain after secondary treatment; disinfects it with chlorine, and removes the salt.

The color warns people not to drink water from the pipe. However, it is completely safe for many other water-saving uses.

Much has been written and discussed about how to deal with California’s water crisis; however, I have seen little about funding treatment plants and distribution systems to deliver large quantities of recycled water for use in landscape and agricultural irrigation, industrial cooling and processing and recreational uses.

Yes, recycled water is used to irrigate Ridge Creek Golf Course in Dinuba and the landscape around Clovis Community Hospital to cite two notable users. However, more locations could benefit from a little color.

Every golf course in the California should be using recycled water, if reasonably economical. Golf courses use from 300,000 to as much as one million gallons per night to irrigate.

Arizona is a pioneer in recycled water use.

Tucson has been producing and delivering reclaimed water since 1984. Reclaimed water for irrigation is delivered to almost 1,000 sites, including:

• 18 golf courses

• 50 parks

• 65 schools (including the University of Arizona and Pima Community College)

• More than 700 single family homes

Elsewhere in Arizona, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix uses recycled water for cooling.

Since 1989, the majority of Scottsdale’s golf courses have been using non-potable water for irrigating to preserve more drinking water for use now and in the future. Scottsdale’s two water reclamation facilities can process more than 20 million gallons of reclaimed water a day, 365 days a year. Most of this reclaimed water is distributed to 23 golf courses for turf irrigation. The remaining water is put through further treatment and is pumped back into the groundwater aquifer, or recharged, through 50 specially designed recharge wells.

Tertiary treated water is costly not only to process, but to deliver to where it can be used. However, it seems more plausible and worthwhile to consider than some of the “solutions” that have been floated to address California’s water crisis.

California is environmentally unique. There are few places in the world with a climate like California’s.

It is unique because it is an ideal growing environment for agriculture and urban landscape alike, if water is available during the growing season. California’s past leaders understood how uniquely valuable that is and developed both surface and ground water resources to take advantage of that growing season. It needs to be preserved with more long-range thinking solutions than destroying how God has blessed our state with this rare environment.

Dedicating significant resources to develop more recycled water is one long-term solution. If Arizona can do it, why can’t California. It makes more sense than tearing out lawns and replacing them with plastic grass and turning green California brown by letting our beautiful landscape turn brown and die.

Man created this crisis by neglecting California’s future water needs. It’s time decision makers look beyond cash for grass. . More water storage is one solution; reclaimed water could be another significant answer.

California is green and beautiful because past leaders were bold.

Harry Cline has been a Fresno resident for 40 years. He recently retired as editor with a major business publication company writing about agriculture and the turf and landscape industry. He also is a former newspaper reporter in Texas newspapers and on the Tucson Daily Citizen for seven years.