Irrigation of golf courses is controversial

Some left-wing officials have called for changes in regulations that allow golf courses to continue watering their greens even at the height of drought warning.

As France goes through a drought described by the government as “historic”, golf courses are in sight of some elected officials from the left. Despite the lack of water, many are indeed allowed to continue to irrigate their land. It is particularly condemned by Grenoble’s ecological mayor, Éric Piolle. “Why can we water golf greens when everyone has water shortages? You can say it doesn’t make much senseHe highlighted the chosen green on BFMTV, which recently sent a letter to Bérangère Couillard, Minister of State for Ecology.

In a widely cited tweet, Hendrik Davi, LFI-Nupes deputy from Bouches-du-Rhône, also proposed banning the irrigation of golf courses. “During times of drought, refilling swimming pools is prohibited, but golf courses should reduce their water consumption by only 20% and between 7pm and 9am. An 18-hole field needs 5,000 m3/day or consumption of 12,000 people. What if we ban them too?“, He wrote. “57 departments are under water restriction. More than 100 municipalities are deprived of drinking water. During this time, exceptions are made to allow wealthy people to play golf. It’s really time to stop messing with full blastYan Chantrel, the French socialist senator, jumped on Twitter on Sunday.

If some criticizeinterruptions» The fact that golf courses are watered during times of drought is no exception. In 2019, between the French Golf Federation and the Ministries of Ecological Transition, Sport and Agriculture, four levels of restriction (vigilance, alert, high alert, crisis). Even on the brink of a crisis involving 66 departments today, the greenery, ie areas with holes, can continue to be irrigated from 8pm to 8pm, excluding drinking shortages. this. But watering must bereduced to absolutely essential» and cannot represent more than 30% of normal volumes.

SEE ALSO – Drought: Vincent Bordenave warns “little prospect of recovery before 15 August”

“1 to 2%” of irrigated land surface

The measures recommended in this national framework agreement are at least those that should be included in the framework orders issued by governors at the local level. “Governors can take more restrictive measures if they feel that drinking water shortages should be feared or local conditions warrant it.“We care about the Golf Federation. Like this, “some twenty chapters sometimes go so far as to completely and simply prohibit the irrigation of golf courses in the event of drought in their framework decrees.Says Maximilien Lambert, FFGolf environmental project manager. This applies, for example, to the Loire-Atlantique or Ille-et-Vilaine. Because of the drought today,39 golf courses in France are never irrigated“, Counts Pascal Grizot, president of the federation.

In some areas with the strictest regulations, an exemption can be requested for golf courses to receive water. “However, in municipalities where water is supplied to residents by cisterns, the federation does not want them to request exemptions from golf courses.» denotes Maximilien Lambert. “We do not want to compete with the agricultural sector either.» adds Pascal Grizot.

As for golf officials, it is also emphasized that only a very small part of the land remains irrigated in case of drought. “Only the greenery necessary for the survival of the trail is watered. They represent only 1% to 2% of the total surface of the golf course.“, we explain to the federation, therefore “The minimum requirement for the greens of an 18-hole golf course to survive the high temperature is 100 to 120 m3 per day.“Because in total the federation estimates that the national average annual water consumption of an 18-hole golf course is 50,000 m3 per year. A number “very far“From what was put forward by LFI deputy Hendrik Davi points out FFGolf. The actual annual consumption of a golf course is indeed “36.5 timesindicated lower.

“We support golf courses to invest in rational water management in a sustainable way. »

Maximilien Lambert, environmental project manager at the French Golf Federation

This represents the annual consumption of approximately 950 people. While this is not negligible, it is extremely limited when compared, for example, with the needs of agriculture (3.4 billion m3 of water consumed each year, or 45% of total consumption in France). In FFGolf it is stated that Hendrik Davi’s data is taken from a 2002 senator’s report, whose figures date back to 1992, and which comes only from sites covered by the Rhône Méditerranée Corse water agency.

SEE ALSO – What is the difference between “meteorological drought”, “soil drought” and “groundwater drought”?

15,000 jobs are at risk, according to the federation

Also, if “90% of golf courses use water unfit for human consumption», Maximilien Lambert confirms progress on the source of irrigation water. As the Federation admits,Only 20% of golf courses benefit from what can be considered “sustainable” resources: rainwater collected and stored in reserves, raw water from major irrigation channels, water recycled by treatment plants“It’s an issue the Federation says it’s working on.”We accompany golf courses to make sustainable investments for reasonable water management. 15 million Euro project presented to water institutions», explains Maximilian Lambert.

According to the official, the water problem is quite big. “Failure to water results in the death of the green“Which leads to,” the federal spokesperson reports.closure of the structure and 6-month operating loss until the spring of the following year“The federation, which puts forward economic arguments, reports. “The industry we advocate represents more than 1.5 billion euros in turnover in France and provides 15,000 jobs, including 7,500 direct jobs in the field.“, he recounts. Pascal Grizot nevertheless says “understand that irrigation of golf courses can shock citizensSome French no longer water their gardens or fill their ponds. “But we do this with great intuition, and very important efforts are being made to limit consumption.»

SEE ALSO – In the context of a “historic” drought, Christophe Béchu gives “drinking water priority”

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