"Excessive amounts of water are used, and this cannot be justified from any perspective", María del Pino Palacios Díaz, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Department of Animal Pathology, Animal Production and Food Science and Technology at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, tells SINC.
Despite the high cost of water (around €0.4 per cubic meter), the amount of water used on golf courses in the Canary Islands continues to be "excessive". On the golf course studied, plants receive more than 83% more water than they need, which reduces the risk of substances accumulating in the soil, but increases the risk of contaminating the aquifer.
The researchers have confirmed this on the basis of a "detailed" analysis of the nutrients and other substances contained in the reclaimed water, and by studying how this is absorbed by the soil and plants, how it travels through the unsaturated area, and the likelihood of it reaching the aquifer.
The research, which has been published in the Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, also looked at the effect of re-using water reclaimed from desalinated urban water on soil fertility and the health of the greens between 1982 and 2007 at the Royal Golf Club of Las Palmas, one of the oldest courses in Spain and a "model" club in terms of how it is managed.
According to Palacios Díaz, although the study focused on a single golf course, the results could be extrapolated "to others in semi-arid or arid areas that are irrigated using water from urban or marine sources, and with similar soil characteristics".
Effects of using treated water
The quality of the water used to irrigate golf courses has improved a great deal since the 1970s. It is also "recommendable" that those that are able and that suffer from salinity problems reuse desalinated water for maintenance purposes. In fact, "permission is not given for new courses if they cannot show that the water used to irrigate them will be reclaimed", the expert explains.
The Royal Golf Club of Las Palmas is irrigated with water that has been desalinated, consumed by the public, treated and once again desalinated before being recycled for reuse. However, "the combination of water with low salinity and a high proportion of exchangeable sodium (which is common in desalinated regenerated water) can have a negative impact on the structural stability of soil, which loses fertility over the medium term because of losing its capacity to drain away water", the researcher says.
To this must be added the possible long-term effects of using it for cultivated plants, the irrigation system and the water of the aquifer. The scientists say it is not only the quality of the water used that could harm the condition of the soil and the aquifer, but "the frequency and amount of the recycled water used in irrigation".
"It is assumed that the consequences only depend on the quality of the water, when in fact the other factors normally have a greater influence", says Palacios Díaz in this study, which is part of the TRAGUA project on Water Treatment and Recycling for sustainable management.
In relation to the negative long-term impacts of the excessive use of desalinated reclaimed water, the researchers propose "adapting the species and varieties watered, instead choosing types that are more tolerant of salinity and thereby reducing the cleaning requirements. Paradoxically, this adaptation has been implemented at the golf course studied, but the amount of water used has not been reduced", explains the scientist.
The study also calls for the amount and frequency of watering to be adjusted to the needs of the plants irrigated in the area in question, and for consumption amounts to be calculated using internationally-accepted experimental equations (evapotranspiration equations). "This is the only way of ensuring sustainable use of reclaimed water", concludes Palacios Díaz.
However, Spanish legislation does not address the sustainability criteria for reusing water. "Such criteria are poorly understood and, as a result, are generally not fulfilled", warns the researcher.
Estévez, E.; Cabrera, M.C.; Fernández-Vera, J.R.; Hernández-Moreno, J.M.; Mendoza-Grimón, V.; Palacios-Díaz, M.P. "Twenty-five years using reclaimed water to irrigate a golf course in Gran Canaria" Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research 8, edición especial 2(95-101), 2010.
SINC | EurekAlert!
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine