Golf course in China’s desert strains drinking water supply
Even before the golf course went into use, the region of Yulin had been thirsty and constantly threatened with drought. Some villagers can afford to take only three baths in their entire lives: once at birth, once before the wedding, and once at death. However, the grass next to their village is watered three times a day. The golf course in this sandy area swills 3,000 to 5,000 tons of water daily when people’s lips keep drying out all year round.
Construction of golf courses has been prohibited since 2004 by the Chinese government owing to its high consumption of water, occupation of land and destruction of natural habitat.
In 2006, the state slapped another restriction, forbidding golf course construction projects from getting land approval. Despite the legal barriers, over 400 technically illegal golf courses have sprung up in the past seven years all over the country fueled by the rapid economic growth and the burgeoning middle class’ increasing demand for recreation.
The region of Yulin in Shaanxi province in northwestern China borders a desert and is therefore extremely brittle and susceptible to desertification. Small shrubs had been the major vegetation to slow the process and protect the landscape. However, a golf course built in 2009 has posed a great danger to the region’s flora and is now draining it of any life.
The golf course in Yulin, Shaanxi, takes up over 330 acres of land. The investment amounted to 300 million yuan, or US$43 million. It is the biggest golf course in Shaanxi province. The annual fee for an individual is 188,000 yuan (roughly US$28,000), whereas a company needed to pay 398,000 yuan (roughly US$60,000) to enroll. Nevertheless, a membership is highly sought despite a recent fee hike. The salesperson said only two spots are left for companies. Some professional golfers have showered praises on the course, saying the terrain is very challenging and entertaining.
However, irrigation of the golf course located between the Ordos desert and the Loess Plateau has led water level to fall drastically, killing plants that provid a windbreak and sand fixation and furthur damaging the environment. In a village that neighbors the golf course, life of villagers has been greatly affected. A hand-dug water well 7-meter deep in the village has been deserted. Now a well has to go over 100 meter deep into the ground in order to get water.