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Surf Cup Sports’ 55-acre fields will now start relying solely on recycled water for irrigation. The facility draws over 200,000 soccer players and their families each year for tournaments. Photo courtesy of Surf Club Sports.
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Surf Cup Sports aims for sustainability with recycled water irrigation

DEL MAR – In a stride toward sustainability, Surf Cup Sports has begun using recycled water to irrigate its 55-acre recreational field in Del Mar.

The move will save an estimated 100 million gallons of drinkable water every year, according to a Surf Cup press release.

“The impetus of this really comes from our commitment to being great stewards of this land,” said Surf Cup Sports CEO Brian Enge in an interview with The Coast News.

Although the city of San Diego owns the property, Surf Cup has been operating the grass fields since the early 1990s. The field is used primarily for soccer games and tournaments, but also hosts sports such as lacrosse and ultimate frisbee.

One of Surf Cup’s biggest priorities for the property is maintaining the grass, thus ensuring safe and hospitable playing fields. For years, the property’s grass lived off of well water, which was “poisoning the grass instead of watering it,” said Surf Cup Vice President Rob Haskell. So, Surf Cup started to look for a new solution.

“When we thought about ways of taking care of this grass and keeping it healthy, one of those ways was to look at the reality of water shortage, and the reality of where we are at in California,” said Enge.

Going for recycled water seemed like a win-win – both for the health of the fields and the environment at large.

In 2017, Haskell reached out to the Olivenhain Municipal Water District to get the ball rolling. The district has a water reclamation facility that provides recycled water to some parks, streetscapes, and golf courses in its district – and now to Surf Cup’s fields.

In order to make the switch, Surf Cup invested $2 million to bring in a pump station, transmission line and irrigation laterals. By building an in-ground sprinkler system, they were able to monumentally cut their water usage.

“It’s quite a difference,” said Haskell.

But for Surf Cup, saving potable water is just one piece of a larger effort to be more environmentally conscious. For the last two decades, the company has filtered all of its trash for recycling – sorting through garbage bag after bag to separate out recyclables.

“The city asked us to do things like that a long time ago, and we took it to the extreme,” said Haskell.

Down the road, Surf Cup is aiming to completely eliminate plastic from its tournaments – and also start looking at the implementation of solar power as the facility’s energy source.

Haskell said he thinks such efforts not only augment sustainability but also show young athletes the value of stewardship.

“We have a lot of young minds and a lot of young athletes come through these facilities,” Haskell said. “If we act more responsibly, maybe we can pass more of an impact along to these kids.”