New Algarve golf course will only go ahead if treated wastewater is used

Project to build new 18-hole golf course under public consultation until Thursday

Construction of a new golf course in Vila Real de Santo António, the second in the Monte Rei development in the Algarve, will only go ahead if it is irrigated with treated wastewater, the deputy mayor of the municipal council has said.

The tourist resort, which already has an 18-hole course and now has an expansion project underway – under public consultation until Thursday (February 9) – has asked the relevant authorities to extend a four-year licence that was due to expire on December 20, 2023, Ricardo Cipriano told Lusa news agency.

“What is under public discussion is the extension of the Environmental Impact Statement that was in force (until December 20). It was authorised as part of the project to expand the Monte Rei golf course, a project that is part of the approved urbanisation plan that is still in force,” explained the deputy mayor

Cipriano stressed that the EIS had been obtained with a favourable conditional opinion for four years and that the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR), as the decision-making body, had asked the council, the Nature Conservation Institute (ICNF) and the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) for their opinions.

“As far as the town hall is concerned, we understand that, obviously, Monte Rei is a strategic asset for the economic development of the district and, given that this expansion project, what is proposed, is that it be supplied exclusively with treated wastewater, in other words, without recourse to any surface or underground supply source, we didn’t object,” he explained.

The councilor assured that the municipality is aware of the difficulties that the region and the district are going through due to the drought, but emphasised that the project is in line with the proposal by the ministry for the environment and the Intermunicipal Community of the Algarve (AMAL) that all golf course projects be irrigated with treated wastewater by 2030.

Ricardo Cipriano pointed out that, under this strategy, “water abstracted either from underground aquifers or from surface water supplies”, such as reservoirs, “is nil or almost nil”.

The deputy mayor said there were two possible options for Monte Rei, located in the parish of Vila Nova Cacela, 15 kilometres from the district centre: watering the golf course with treated water from the Vila Real de Santo António Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which “produces four cubic hectometres a year”, or from another WWTP in Tavira.

Ricardo Cipriano said that two golf courses in Castro Marim currently use one cubic hectometre from the Vila Real de Santo António WWTP, “so there is still room” for Monte Rei to obtain treated water from this source.

Lusa questioned the spokesman for the Algarve’s Commission for Hydroagricultural Sustainability about the development of a new golf project, when the region’s agriculture is going to be subjected to water cuts of 25% to preserve existing reserves as much as possible in a drought scenario, but Macário Correia referred to the Environment Agency’s determination on the matter, which prevents the use of water from aquifers and dams.

We agree with what the APA has imposed on them: they can’t use boreholes or water from reservoirs, they have to use reused water. That being the case, it’s fine,” he said, saying that it wouldn’t make sense for them to be able to reduce existing reserves even further “when there are orchards drying up”.

Source: LUSA