Protecting the aquifer at Vidago


Protecting the aquifer at Vidago
Sean Dudley

The Vidago Palace course in Portugal is reaping the rewards of an innovative new water management system, which is protecting the important aquifer on which the course sits.

Vidago Palace, originally designed as a nine hole course by Philip Mackenzie Ross, was recently extended to eighteen holes by British architecture firm Cameron Powell. But although the course’s owner, Portuguese beverages group Unicer, was keen to grow the golf and resort business, protecting the aquifer, one of the country’s largest sources of mineral water, was perhaps even more important. Several of the operational boreholes are actually located within the confines of the golf course, and the clubhouse is a former bottling plant.

Portuguese water management consultancy GEOdesenho created the new irrigation and drainage systems to avoid any pollution of the aquifer. Irrigation water comes from the nearby river and from local springs. The irrigation was designed to minimise leaching, while drainage was planned to collect any leachage and to control the high water table. The drainage infrastructure also intercepts all surface run-offs that might cause erosion. The course’s fertilisation and pesticides policy has been defined specifically to minimise possible impacts.

The course opened in October 2010, and the results of the first year’s operation are now coming through. “Test results point to null impacts on the aquifers,” said GEOdesenho’s Pedro Correia. “We are sampling six times a year, at fourteen different locations at different depths, from superficial waters to the aquifer itself. The results demonstrate no impact at all, after one year of construction, almost another of grow-in and slightly more than one year of normal operations.”

Vidago is now preparing an application for certification by the Golf Environment Orgnanization (GEO).