FORT HOOD, Texas, Oct. 31, 2011 -- With Texas facing constraints on its water supplies and a statewide drought, Fort Hood's Directorate of Public Works and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare Recreation are working together on an alternative for the installation's golf course irrigation system.

Fort Hood's newest water conservation effort, a system that pumps non-potable water from a small lake near the golf complex into the golf course's irrigation pond, is now in the test phase.

The 27-hole golf complex normally uses potable water to refill its irrigation pond and water the course.

In fiscal year 2009, the water consumption was metered in accordance with Army guidance, and the bill increased from $100,000 to $340,000 annually. Executive Order 13423-Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management also mandated a two percent per year reduction in potable water use along with Army and installation sustainability initiatives.

"From a business perspective, DFMWR (Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare Recreation) could not overcome the added cost and was looking for affordable alternatives," said Michael Ernst, chief, Business Division, DFMWR. "Instead of using drinkable, potable water out of a tap, we looked at options to use reclaimed water. It's good for business and the environment."

In 2009, the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory conducted a feasibility study to identify alternatives for a non-potable source.

"CERL looked at several alternatives including building storm water retention golf ponds, pumping water from Copperas Cove, and then identifying nearby lakes that could be used," said Randy Doyle, supervisor, Environmental Support Team, DPW. "The most feasible alternative was to bring water in from a nearby lake, which was two miles away."

The lake within the cantonment is one of the installation's storm water retention ponds for the motor pools on the east side of the installation.

"If Soldiers are washing their vehicles from TJ Mills and eastward, the water ends up in the small lake, and will be reused for the golf complex," Doyle said.

Transporting water from the lake is part of a four-phase project. Phases one and two were completed this year with the construction of a pipeline and installation of pump capacity.

The water will be pumped through a two-mile pipeline to the golf course holding pond until the irrigation system pulls water from it.

The next phase will be funded by Installation Management Command to do an assessment and determine if the dam at the lake can be raised 10 feet to allow the inflow of up to 40 million gallons of water. Then the last phase will be to integrate the non-potable system into the installation's Utility Management Control System.

"The UMCS would make the non-potable system automated and avoid having an individual to go out to the lake to turn on the pump manually," Doyle said. "Sensors would be placed throughout the lake to detect the water level and avoid the lake being drained too deeply."

DFMWR also conducted an internal analysis to make their water operations more efficient.

"The staff was able to adjust the timing, the distance and the direction the water flows to conserve a little more water," Ernst said. "Then we also installed a weather station."

The weather station calculates the evapotranspiration rate based on the water used by the plants, amount needed for replenishment, humidity rate, wind, temperature, and other factors. The station then adjusts how much water is needed to irrigate the complex and automatically shuts down the irrigation system if rain is coming or if no watering is needed.

"Fort Hood leads the way in environmental measures and precious natural resources," said Nick Johnsen, director, DFMWR. "This is a great partnership between DFMWR and DPW. We are saving both natural resources and at the same time improving the bottom line of the golf course."

The green pump project is expected to show a return on investment within four years.

Fort Hood's non-potable watering system could be exported to other military golf courses.

"This is a best practice for Fort Hood and is an alternative for other installation with similar water challenges," Doyle said. "The green initiative reduces reliance on potable water and shows Fort Hood's commitment to protecting our natural resources."