Reed Fisher wouldn't encourage anyone playing at the Central Valley Golf Course to kiss a freshly washed golf ball for luck. Nevertheless, he defends the use of reclaimed sewage water that keeps the fairways green.
Fisher, the water manager of Central Valley Water Reclamation District, said the greens at the course are greener, and he likes to talk about the possibilities that reclaimed water could play for Utah during drought years and in meeting the irrigation demands from continued growth.
"We need to look at all of our sources," Fisher said. "I really believe you could safely swim in this water. We actually make the warning signs kind of scary just so people are careful."
What do the signs say? "This golf course is irrigated with reclaimed water, unsafe for human contact or drinking."
Millions of gallons of water are going from sewage treatment plants into Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake when the water could be exchanged for irrigation use, he said.
Utahns are also losing thousands of acre-feet of water through evaporation as it travels through miles of canals and ditches to reach users.
"It isn't our goal to use this for anything other than irrigation," Fisher said. The quality rating on the water is high enough that the district has permission to spray it anywhere, he noted.
The $1.5 million Central Valley Reclamation Water Facility at 3300 S. 600 West in Salt Lake City is one of two such plants in Utah. Fisher hopes there will someday be many more, and he is interested in helping the Timpanogos Special Service District build a similar plant.
"What people need to understand is that the water we use today has always been recycled," said Kevin Gallagher, Central Valley's assistant manager. "Our water is cleaner than your typical irrigation water."
If it fails a purity test, the system automatically returns the water to the treatment plant so there's little danger of contamination, Fisher said. There's also an ample supply.
"We put one million gallons of this water on the golf course a day. We don't have any watering restrictions here," Fisher said.