New golf courses harm water stocks
16 July 2004, MADRID — The spate of golf course building around Spain's arid southern coast is posing a grave threat to its limited fresh water stocks, it was reported Friday.
16 July 2004
MADRID — The spate of golf course building around Spain's arid southern coast is posing a grave threat to its limited fresh water stocks, it was reported Friday.
Each of the 200 courses built around the coast consumes the same amount of fresh water as a town of 12,000 people, according to a report yesterday by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Spain's parched south-east is reportedly planning to build at least 89 more, the Guardian newspaper reported.
The report urged eco-friendly tourists to boycott golf courses and swimming pools in highly stressed areas, and to take shorter showers.
"We are not saying people shouldn't enjoy their holidays," the report's author, Lucia de Stefano, said.
"A lot of water can be saved without great effort."
The report describes a region along the southern Mediterranean wilting under the pressure of more than 135 million visitors a year to beaches in what are mainly arid coastal areas stretching from northern Morocco and Spain to Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Tunisia.
That figure is set to more than double in two decades' time, as the few gaps left in the overcrowded coasts of Spain, Italy and France are filled in and new tourist destinations such as Tunisia and Turkey hurriedly build over their coastlines.
"The tourism industry depends on water and at the moment it is destroying the very resource it needs," WWF's Holger Schmid said.
But the group warned that visitors to what is the world's biggest tourist destination looked set to double over 20 years.
The huge amount of land being concreted over every year will, in itself, add to the overall ecological damage, the report warns.
"The increasing number of tourists along the limited space of the Mediterranean coast will push urban boundaries further inland, most likely destroying the few remaining coastal wetlands and lagoons," the report added.
More than half the wetlands of France, Greece, Italy and Spain have already disappeared, according to one EU study.
Mediterranean countries are already raiding limited underground water supplies to keep up with the demand from tourism and agriculture.
Morocco's Moulouya estuary, with its 400 hectares of marshlands, looks set to go the same way as the wetlands of southern Europe, with tourist developments threatening the endangered monk seal and rare birds such as the slender-billed curlew or the Andalusian hemipode.
Tourism accounts for 7 percent of pollution in the Mediterranean sea.
"Health problems such as infections of the ear, nose, and throat, hepatitis and dysentery can result from swimming in polluted sea waters," the report notes.
Building, meanwhile, continues at breakneck speed.
Spain is reportedly building 180,000 a year, 40 percent of them for Britons.
In 27 towns on Spain's Alicante coast a stable population of 150,000 is pushed up to 1.1 million in August.
Water consumption in the Balearic islands, meanwhile, increased 15-fold from 1980 to 1995.
Subject: Spanish news