Recreation & Entertainment

Photo of a snow making machine at a ski resort.

Many of Pennsylvania’s extensive recreational and entertainment activities require considerable amounts of water—in particular, ski areas and golf courses.

Ski areas use huge quantities of water making snow when mother nature doesn't provide any. Fortunately, ski resorts withdraw water to make snow when residential and commercial water demand is at its lowest, and the water used to make snow typically returns to the ground and surface water sources from which it was borrowed. Golf courses, on the other hand, irrigate fairways and putting surfaces during the warmer months, when demand for water is high. Keeping fairways and putting surfaces green can therefore put quite a strain on public supply systems.

What Can You Do?

High-Traffic Bathrooms

Commercial Kitchens

Golf Courses

Did You Know?

Pennsylvania is home to 24 ski resorts, 13 large amusement parks, 15 zoos, 117 state parks, more than 800 golf courses, numerous campgrounds, museums, and many other recreational businesses that all use water in a variety of ways.Pennsylvania's lakes and rivers also support more than 100 commercial boat marinas and many more whitewater, kayak, and canoeing outfitters that all depend on water levels for their businesses.

  • Design course layout and complementary landscaping with water conservation in mind.
  • Allow native plants to thrive.
  • Install smart evapotranspiration irrigation controls on irrigation systems.
  • Check water meters regularly to identify leaks in irrigation systems.
  • Investigate using treated wastewater effluent for irrigation. Wastewater contains nutrients that can be used by turfgrass better than any other plants.
  • Wash equipment and machinery with soap and water from a bucket instead of a running hose.

Ski Areas and Resorts

  • Install water-efficient snow machines.
  • Install flow meters and weather-based controls on snowmaking equipment.
  • Investigate water recycling and reuse of treated wastewater for snowmaking.
  • Build terrain park and half-pipe bases out of dirt rather than snow.
  • Evaluate and reduce summer water use for landscaping and irrigation.

Additional Resources


WaterSense makes it easy to find water-efficient products that meet efficiency and performance criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent third-party testing and certification.

The Federal Energy Management Program provides best management practices for water-efficient landscaping.

National Ski Area Association's Sustainable Slopes promotes sustainability in the ski industry, including preservation of water resources. Sustainable Slopes also hosts The Green Room, a database of environmental projects at ski areas.

Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange hosts a ski area topic hub that provides basic pollution prevention information for ski areas, as well as links to other resources.

Trade Associations

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America provides leadership in the golf course industry on issues including water resources management, energy, and sustainability.

The Irrigation Association is a membership organization for irrigation end users that promotes efficient irrigation and provides information on new technologies and management practices.


Peaks to Prairies’ pollution prevention manual Greening Your Ski Area provides information on reducing water use in all facets of a ski operation.