The challenge facing Murcia, in its role as the fastest-growing golfing region in Spain, was summed up succinctly by the opening speaker in the Environment of Golf conference. “Do we use our water to grow tomatoes…or to irrigate golf courses?” was among the detailed questions raised in a wide-ranging and thought-provoking scene-setter by Dr.Joaquin Aranda Gallego, a specialist on the subject from the University of Murcia.
Five golf courses have been opened in Murcia in the last five years and some 20 licences have been granted for further development schemes. With these golf courses comes large housing developments which attract growing numbers of tourists and residents.
All this in an agricultural region where the previous employment was concentrated largely on the growing of tomatoes, lemons, oranges, pimentos and the like, and where lengthy periods of drought are commonplace.
“Murcia can be a pioneering region in researching the impact of golfing growth on water resources…and a model for golf tourism…” was the message he imparted in a detailed analysis of the effect that the golfing boom will have on the local economy and its taxing policy.
“Golf courses require a range of services including water supply, electricity and telephones, and they are very demanding,” he explained.
An in-depth balance sheet on projected water usage revealed a potential shortfall of some 305,000 cubic metres in a given period. “Where is this extra water we require coming from?” he asked.
While accepting that it would have to be imported he underlined that there can be many restrictions on obtaining water ‘some of them political…’
As the conference prepared to deal with these challenges speaker-by-speaker, he warned,” If we don’t do things properly we won’t get proper results…only criticism from the media.”
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