Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Water Down The Drain

I wrote recently about the huge amount of development taking place on the Spanish Mediterranean coast (Cement Works). Yesterday Greenpeace published a report claiming that there are currently 1.5 million new homes under construction on the whole Spanish coastline, together with 300 new golf courses. These golf courses are often being constructed as apart of a housing development.

Last weekend I was in Murcia, one of the areas where this explosion in construction is most evident. It is also an area that has some of the most severe water problems in the whole country, together with Almeria to the south. Under the previous government, water was going to be diverted from the River Ebro down to Valencia, Murcia and Almeria; this scheme was stopped with the change of government in 2004. The regions who want this water always use agriculture as their main argument, and clearly the huge increase of cultivation under plastic in these areas creates a certain amount extra demand. However, the farmers of these regions have in the past become expert in the maximum use of limited water supplies - they had no choice. An enormous increase in the number of homes, together with the development of water hungry resources such as golf courses is going to put tremendous stress on the available water supplies. To give an example, it has been estimated that the 28 golf courses in the Madrid region use the same amount of water as a town of 100,000 people.

This unsustainable development is happening at a time when Spain is in one of its periodic drought cycles, last year was one of the driest on record and this year is not going much better. Desalination plants are being built to try and meet some of the demand but the pace of new construction is still increasing, the 1.5 million homes figure is said to be double that of last year. It could be argued that the northernmost part of the Sahara is really in Spain rather than Africa, a really severe water crisis might be the only thing that puts an end to this boom, partly fuelled by corruption and money laundering.


Tom said...

yeah this is a major problem... but it feels like no one's going to do anything about it until it's done. same with the vegetable growing regions where the earth will be dead in five years, scorched with chemicals... no one seems to have any interest in stopping it.

El Casareño Ingles said...

The same is happening down here on the Costa del Sol.

The figures I had stated that each golf course uses the equivalent of a town of 20,000 people (at the time the size of Estepona).

There are already 160 golf courses here with another 160 planned. Where the hell is the water going to come from?

Now, even Casares has started one - a Nicklaus golf academy - madness.