Green Valley Golf Course

Ari Posner

Nate Allen

SWES 554

Spring 2007

Project Goal: To assess the potential for using rainwater harvesting techniques on golf courses as a means to reduce dependency or groundwater and irrigation.


Located in Green Valley just east of I-19, the Haven Golf Course was Green Valley 's first golf course when it was built in 1967. The course was built along the Santa Cruz River with Bermuda grass throughout and has lots of water features and mature pine, eucalyptus and palm trees, among others. The views of the Santa Rita Mountains are stunning and the course is forgiving, making Haven right for a very pleasurable day of golf.

The initial visit by the group to the Haven Golf Course occurred on February 12, 2007 . At this time a formal contact with the Haven Golf Course had not yet been established and group members walked the perimeter of the course observing the general lay of the land and locations of the major pathways of stormwater on, around, and through the course.

As mentioned above the course is located on the banks of the Santa Cruz River . Therefore, it is lower than the surrounding residential areas and all the stormwater runoff from the surrounding residential areas runs either into channels adjacent to the course or across the surface of the course. This suggests that the potential to retain sufficient amounts of water for course use would be high. Therefore, the Haven Golf Course was deemed a good site for this preliminary study.

After none of the attempts to find a community member to act as project liaison to the course, the course superintendent, Jeff Eckart, was contacted. According to a feature in the Green Valley News Jeff and the Haven Golf Course were identified as leaders in water conservation on golf courses in Green Valley . Jeff was interested in making connections with the University and invited the group to the Haven for a visit. Jeff's main concern in cooperating with the project was that the Haven and the Golf industry be positively portrayed. He was assured that the projects intentions were strictly collaborative and hoped that through cooperation a model for using water harvesting at other golf courses might be created.

The conversation to follow revealed several problems and questions Jeff had specifically regarding how he thought that water harvesting might be incorporated at the Haven. Jeff immediately identified several locations where stormwater is flowing onto the course. These are a problem for the course as standing water gets in the way of play. Their current solution is to direct the water via swales directly to the river.


Potential Water Harvesting Sites

Site 1: Located on the Northern most part of the course. This location is a cul-de-sac where all the rainwater runoff from watershed E is directed before flowing into a shallow wash. A significant area of the course that is off the fairway and green has been allowed to brown in order to lower water use. This area's aesthetics could be significantly improved if rainwater was used as an alternate source of water for the landscape to replace the cut off water irrigation.


Photo 1. Outlet of Watershed E and possible site of retention basin.


Photo 2. Existing outlet of Watershed E directly into wash.


Site 2: Located south of site 1 near the southeast corner of the northern residential neighborhood. Site is located where storm water from Watershed D flows down a shallow channel toward the Santa Cruz River . However, the water does not stay within the channel and spreads out saturating the ground and preventing play on the adjacent holes. This site was identified as a potential site for a retention pond. There is no water feature on this part of the course and the construction of one would allow irrigation from it to the surrounding holes.

Photo 3. Pooling area at mouth of Watershed D.


Site 3: Located on the southern part of the course. This area was identified as the most problematic locations on the course. The current drainage channel is not sufficient to direct storm water from Watershed A into the Santa Cruz River . Again this causes standing water to accumulate and remain for several days after a rain. Potential for retention pond was again discussed.


Photo 4,5,6. Mouth of Watershed A where significant flooding occurs.




Site 4: Located on the southeast corner of the Watershed A residential development. This area includes a large channel to accommodate storm water from some residential area north of Watershed A and a significant amount of water flushed from the Green Valley Water well location (see Watershed Figure). However, the channel does not reach all the way to the river and again causes standing water to accumulate and linger on the course.


Photo 7. Channel conveying well flush.


Photo 8. Pooling area at mouth of flushing channel.


Site 5: Located on the south side of the club house. This area collects runoff from the parking lot. This would be an ideal space to utilize the rainwater runoff to enhance the aesthetics of course entrance.

Several criterion were also identified as being essential to the success and feasibility of water harvesting on golf course. The water quality must be adequate as to not harm the turf and landscape. The harvesting elements cannot adversely effect play on the course. One example might be accommodating golf carts. Elements must also be aesthetically pleasing. Golf is a business and if water harvesting is to find a place in golf it must contribute to the player's enjoyment of the game.



Annual Turf Consumption

Based on the Turfgrass Consumptive Use Values for the Tucson Area (Brown,03) the Haven requires 12,256 acre/ft of water annually.
Haven Golf Course has 212.07 acres of turf

1.9 inches/day = average daily water use

Therefore, the area times the height equals volume.

(212.07ac) * (1.9 in/day) / (12in/ft.) * (365days/year) = 12,256 ac-ft/year


On-Site Annual Runoff 

Haven Golf Course has 212.07 acres of turf

12.85 inches rain per year

(212.07ac) * (12.85 in/year) / (12in/ft) = 227 ac-ft/year


Off-Site Annual Run-on (watershed areas are limited to those areas east of Abrego Drive . It was assumed that the road conveys all stormwater into improved channels)



Area ( Acre )

Annual Rain (in)

Volume (ac-ft)

Watershed A




Watershed B




Watershed C




Watershed D




Watershed E









Off-Site Design Storm Run-on and Detention Requirements (Point Precipitation Frequency Estimate from NOAA Atlas 14 for Sahuarita, AZ indicate the 2-yr, 12–hour storm with 1.77in and the 100-yr, 24-hour storm with 4.19in)



2-Yr 12 Hour Storm Runoff (ac-ft)

3-Foot Deep Detention Basin (ac)

100-Yr 24 Hour Storm Runoff (ac-ft)

3-Foot Deep Detention Basin (ac)

Watershed A





Watershed B





Watershed C





Watershed D





Watershed E






Proposed Water Harvesting Plan:

Site 1: The current runoff from Watershed E can be diverted onto the course to knew landscape bordering the course. The water must not enter onto the holes in order to prevent them from becoming soft and unplayable. Therefore, series of berms and basins can be installed to slow water, increase infiltration, and direct water off of the golf holes. These new features would benefit the landscape and aesthetics of these northern most edges of the course.

Site 2: The current channel could be cut deeper to ensure that water remains within the channel to prevent softening the course for golfing. A large retaining basin could be built that would retain runoff for use in irrigation. This basic would become another water feature adding to the aesthetics of the course

Site 3: The current storm water coming from Watershed A would be a significant and welcome source of water for irrigation. Therefore, a retaining basin would serve to catch and store the runoff. This would also add to the aesthetics of the course.

Site 4: The current plan by the Haven grounds crew is to extend to the river. This would prevent storm water from covering the course and preventing play. This would simply discharge the water into the Santa Cruz River . We propose converting this channel into a bunker full of berms, basins, and gabions to increase water infiltration into the soil. The channel would then become a bunker with a seasonal water feature that could be landscaped adding an interesting fun challenge to Holes 3 and 6.

Site 5: The current channel directing runoff from the parking lot is currently covered in grass. We propose landscaping this area as a demonstration are for how water harvesting can add to the aesthetics of the course. Therefore, installing berms, basins, and gabions to hold water for landscape plants is recommended. The use of attractive large river rock or flag stone could create the feel of a mountain stream that during rains would actually be an attractive water feature. Additionally, the channel would be extended to direct parking lot runoff into the near by retaining pond to supplement the water level maintained by pumping well water.


Implications and Opportunties:

The connection with Jeff Eckart and the positive potential shown in the water budget suggest that this would be a good project to pursue further. Jeff expressed serious interest in building a partnership with the water harvesting group and the university turf management program. The partnership could not only be fruitful on the Haven project but on others as well. It is the hope of this group that enough preliminary information has been collected in this project that future class projects could easily develop more specific plans to evaluate and implement the proposed water harvesting features above. Implementation of this project could be furthered by direct contact of the course instructor along with other turf management faculty and Mr. Eckart (520-625-4413). Jeff is very excited about the opportunity to use the Haven Course as an example for water conservation.


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