In recent years golf course managers have begun installing Reverse Osmosis water treatment systems to provide good quality water for irrigation and at a much lower cost than that of municipally supplied water. The use of RO for treating water for irrigation is not new. Seaside hotels in areas such as the Caribbean, Mexico, South America and the Mediterranean regions have been using RO for many years to desalinate seawater for potable water and irrigation needs.
But In many parts of the country, and worldwide, golf course managers struggle with the problems of availability, cost or quality of water for irrigation of their golf course. Reverse Osmosis has solved the problem of utilizing brackish ground water and many Golf Clubs have planned to purchase and install their own RO water treatment plants only to run directly into a difficult problem: where to discharge the RO concentrate. This is the water that contains the concentrated minerals removed by the reverse osmosis process. The problem is finding a suitable location to send the RO concentrate water and obtaining the necessary permits. RO concentrate water is considered “industrial waste” by the DER and EPA. Examples of approved ZERO LIQUID DISCHARGE SYSTEM resources may be an infiltration trench, deep well, a lined surface water body on the property and discharge to a municipal sewage system of low flow concentrate. If none of these exist then building them may be cost prohibitive or not permitted in the location of the property.
But what if there was no water to dispose of or a very minimal amount that could get permitted? Enter “Zero Liquid Discharge” RO system design. This is a very recent advance in reverse osmosis technology which can be provided in various ways based on site specific conditions.
By utilizing stages membrane trains and, in some cases, evaporators as the final stage in the process, an irrigation water treatment plants can reduce 250,000 gallons per day concentrate discharge from a one million gallon per day systems, to less than 27,000 gallons per day. This is a more manageable quantity and one which has a better chance for approved permitting. This is a very important development for the RO and Golf Course industries.