0 Algarve golf courses' growing thirst

Untitled1The Algarve has some of the best and most popular golf courses in Europe, but they need a huge amount of water to stay in tip-top shape.

And now scientists have used satellite and weather station data to calculate just how much the greens and fairways of southern Portugal are consuming.

The study shows the Algarve's 40 courses are being irrigated with some 18 million cu m of water a year.

"The greenkeepers understand the challenges of using so much water and they are introducing efficiency strategies," Prof Celestina Pedras from the University of the Algarve in Faro told BBC News.

She was presenting her work here in Vienna at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly meeting.

Golf has boomed in the region since the 1980s when there were just a handful of courses.

The constant sunshine, the proximity to the beach, and the excellent local cuisine have all proven to be a big draw for tourists who also want to drive some balls.

But the Algarve's perfect weather means the region needs also to conserve its water. Faro, the regional capital, receives about 500mm of rainfall per year.

Most of this rain is concentrated in winter months, meaning that in summer, the courses must irrigate in order keep the greens and fairways from becoming parched.

Nearly all of this sprinkler water is being taken from boreholes.

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