Tom Coulter’s article on the Thermal Beach Club makes a great point that the club would be a playground for the ultra-rich.
But the developer is ignoring the enormous waste of our drinking water on this private surf and beach resort in a community that cannot get clean water for its basic needs.
The surf / swim pool will be 21 acres, the equivalent of 16 football fields, filled with 22 million gallons of our precious drinking water. Using the EPA’s calculations, which take into account our high temperatures and windy conditions, annual evaporation alone can reach 265 million gallons – six times the Coachella Valley Water District calculation. CVWD used factors from 2005, when we only had 99 100-degree days compared to the 150 100-degree days we had in 2020.
Another water-intensive project, Crystal Lagoon at Rancho Mirage, will feature a 34-acre lagoon with 62 million gallons of water, pumped directly from our aquifer. The environmental impact report states that the project would significantly reduce the groundwater supply, with the applicant paying a groundwater replenishment fee to CVWD to offset the use of water from the well.
In other words, they are paying the right to drain our aquifer, which must be recharged with water from the Colorado River. But what is the water in the Colorado River, as we are in the midst of a historic drought, temperatures are rising every year, and Lake Mead is hitting historic lows?
Let’s not forget the private 16-acre, 18 million gallon Coral Mountain Surf Resort in La Quinta and the 6.9 million gallon public surf pool in Palm Desert. All using our drinking water.
The developers are trying to move these massive water projects forward by claiming that surf parks and beach lagoons use less than 75% less water than golf courses. You cannot equate a gallon of golf course water with a gallon of these water projects, which must use potable water. Our current golf courses may use non-potable water, and watered grass adds oxygen to the atmosphere. And the water recirculates in the aquifer.
Golf courses do not water on windy days. Just think of the loss of water in these resorts during our increasingly frequent wind events. And what about loss due to wave action and high temperature evaporation? What about the extra moisture these projects will add in the summer? No more “dry heat”.
Again, using the EPA numbers, we could be talking about over 1 billion gallons of water evaporating per year, which means those energy-guzzling wave pools and lagoons have to be continually refilled.
Coachella Valley residents are being asked to use 15% less water. Golf courses can use less water and reduce water consumption. Surf pools cannot reduce water consumption or cannot function.
I am not advocating new golf courses, like the ultra-exclusive one offered in Thermal. But why are we allowing new developers to waste our water in this way? Shouldn’t we be conserving water for future generations?
We live in the desert. We must stop this travesty against our water supply. It is high time to put an end to these reckless, water-guzzling recreational projects.
Alena Callimanis is a member of La Quinta Residents for Responsible Development.