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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 15:03 GMT
Golf 'is water hazard'
By Ben Sutherland
BBC News Online in Kyoto

The United States is the most wasteful water user in the world, according to figures released at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan.

Golf, BBC
It takes a lot of water to keep the courses green
And a key reason behind America's placing is the country's love of golf.

Keeping fairways lush and greens green requires vast amounts of water.

But the overall benefit of such water use is largely restricted to the golfers and the club owners. In other words, golf is a highly inefficient use of water.

The US has about 23,000 golf courses - far and away the largest number in the world.

United States
Cape Verde
New Zealand
What is more, a great many of them are located in the western United States, an area classed by the World Water Assessment Programme as under "severe water stress."

The water efficiency figures were released as part of the British Centre for Ecology and Hydrology's Water Poverty Index.

Water efficiency was classified together with drinking water, water resources, the country's ability to buy water, and the environmental impact of water policies, to produce a complete "water poverty index."

Man beside flooded rice paddy in China, AP
While there is agreement here on the need to take action, the solutions are mired in controversy
The BBC's Tim Hirsch in Kyoto

The index was compiled to "demonstrate that it is not the amount of water resources available that determine poverty levels in a country, but the effectiveness of how you use those resources", explained Caroline Sullivan, leader of the team that compiled it.

Best placed overall were Finland, Canada and Iceland.

Haiti was bottom, condemned in particular for environmental policies that place it in a "particularly disastrous situation".

Lack of fuel has caused island residents to cut down large numbers of trees, which in turn has devastated the water infrastructure in the country.

The UK's environmental water policies were ranked third best in the world.

The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"There's plenty of agreement here about what the problem is"

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