The construction of a new golf course in Vila Real de Santo António, the second of the Monte Rei project, will only progress if irrigation is carried out with treated wastewater, the vice-president of the municipality assured Lusa news agency.
The tourist resort, which already has an 18-hole course and now has an expansion project underway - in public consultation until Thursday -, asked the competent authorities to extend a license with a four-year term that expired on 20 December 2023, said Ricardo Cipriano.
“What is under public discussion is the extension of the deadline for the Environmental Impact Declaration (DIA) that was in force until December 20th 2023. It was authorized within the scope of the Monte Rei golf course expansion project, a project that is within the approved urbanization plan and still in force”, explained the mayor.
The councilor of the Algarve municipality stressed that the DIA had been obtained with a favourable opinion conditioned for four years and the Algarve Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR), as the competent entity for the decision, requested opinions from the Chamber, the Institute for Conservation of Nature (ICNF) and the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA).
“With regard to the City Council, we understand that, obviously, Monte Rei is a strategic asset for the economic development of the municipality and, given that this expansion project, what is proposed, is that it be supplied exclusively with treated wastewater, that is, without recourse to any surface or underground supply source, we did not oppose”, he explained.
The mayor assured that the Municipality is aware of the difficulty that the region and the municipality are going through due to the drought, but highlighted that the project meets the proposal of the Ministry of the Environment and the Algarve Intermunicipal Community (AMAL) that all golf courses are irrigated, by 2030, with treated wastewater.
Ricardo Cipriano said that, within the scope of this strategy, the “water captured, either through underground aquifers or from surface supplies”, such as dams, “is zero or almost zero”.
The vice-president of the municipality said there were two possible options for Monte Rei, located in the parish of Vila Nova Cacela, 15 kilometres from the county seat: irrigating the golf course with treated water from the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) from Vila Real de Santo António, which “produces four cubic hectometres per year”, or from another WWTP in Tavira.
Ricardo Cipriano said that currently two golf courses in Castro Marim use one cubic hectometre of the Vila Real de Santo António WWTP, “therefore, there is still scope” for Monte Rei to obtain treated water from that source.
Lusa questioned the spokesperson for the Commission for Hydroagricultural Sustainability of the Algarve about the development of a new golf project, when agriculture in the region will be subjected to water cuts of 25% to preserve existing reserves as much as possible in a scenario of drought, but Macário Correia referred to the APA's determination on the matter, which prevents the use of water from aquifers and dams.
“We agree with what the APA imposed on them, they cannot go to boreholes or water from dams, they have to go to reused water. So, that’s fine,” he said, saying that it wouldn’t make sense if they could further reduce existing reserves “when there are orchards drying out.”