'Gray water' gets reused at Waste Management Phoenix Open

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Gray water? It’s not something you throw out or pour down the drain out at the TPC Scottsdale, home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

In fact, before the term ‘gray water’ came along, water conservation was built into the theme of the course and had been since the early ‘80s.

TPC Scottsdale uses reclaimed water to turn a desert landscape into the beautifully lush, green fairways you see on CBS 5 during the golf tournament.

Anywhere from 385 to 400 million gallons of reclaimed water is sprayed out of more than 7,000 sprinkler heads on the two courses every season. But what is "gray water" and why is it important during tournament week?

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"Gray water is the term we used for anything it takes to wash dishes to melted ice," David Brannon, Waste Management’s director of operations for Arizona-New Mexico, explained. "It's all the water that comes from the operations at Waste Management Phoenix Open’s Hole 16.”

And none of that water goes down the drain. So, where does it go?

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"This is our newest station this year. It's a pilot program that we are doing this year on 16. In previous years, just imagine how much ice it takes to cool those beverages that people enjoy throughout the week. Before, the melted ice water was basically just dumped onto the ground which created a mess," Brannon said. "It was wasting water. What we do now, is we have these stations and we take buckets of the gray water to the station. We have a plumb pipe that goes down into one of our tanks. From there we take that water in our Port-O-Let stations and we use gray water versus fresh water to make sure we've got water in our Port-O-Let units.”

This simple but effective step saves drawing on the fresh water supply. How many Port-O-Lets serve the huge crowds out at the Open?

“Throughout the course, [there are] anywhere from 14- to 16-hundred,” Brannon answered.

Melted ice and soapy dishwater -- thousands and thousands of gallons not poured down the drain but reused throughout the golf course.

[FAST FACTS: The Waste Management Phoenix Open presented by the Ak-Chin Indian Community]

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