The Mar Menor is facing five years of changes that will force all the activities carried out in its surroundings to a greater or lesser extent. The Ministry for Ecological Transition has presented a package of actions with a budget of 382 million euros and projects that will last until 2026
Management and surveillance of the public water domain.
The Ministry proposes among the priority actions the sealing of the hydrants and disconnection of the infrastructures that provide water to the plots considered as illegal irrigation but which cannot yet be dismantled because the owners have appealed the sanction proceedings. The Confederación Hidrográfica del Segura will reinforce surveillance in coordination with the Regional Ministry of Agriculture on the use of fertilisers in the most restrictive areas for the use of these products. The aim is to comply with the measures established in order not to contaminate the Campo de Cartagena aquifer, a body of groundwater that will be regulated within a year to control its exploitation by establishing protection perimeters. The Ministry also wants to recover the drainage network of the catchment basin, which has been affected by the ploughing of agricultural activity.
Restoration and environmental improvement.
From next year, Transición Ecológica wants to tackle the creation of a ‘green belt’ around the lagoon by purchasing land and paying farmers to change their crops to others that achieve greater runoff retention. Degraded wadis will also be restored in order to achieve greater retention of runoff. Mining waste in the ponds of the Sierra Minera de Cartagena will be removed, expropriating the owners of the land if they do not act on it.
Protection of the waterfront.
The Coastal Demarcation will focus on the recovery and dismantling of buildings that illegally occupy the public space. It also plans to acquire land close to this public space and before June 2022, 59 cases of structures affecting this domain will have to be resolved. This section also includes the entire recovery of the Puerto Mayor area, with a project that includes the removal of the sheet piling that will have to be ready before the end of 2022. The Ministry has given itself until 2026 to carry out these works. The work will cost 5.2 million.
The Rambla del Albujón concentrates the bulk of this section, as the intention is to increase the water catchment capacity of the water that flows down this channel through the pumping station located at the mouth. Between this year and next it will be partially renovated, while the total renovation will be carried out by 2025. The sewerage network of the riverside municipalities will be renovated and the collectors will be extended, as well as the construction of new sewage pumping stations and the extension of the treatment plants if necessary. The CHS will build retention dikes and water lamination areas in both wadis and urban areas.
The conservation of the lagoon’s emblematic species will be another priority in which the Spanish Institute of Oceanography will intervene. A marine species production centre will be built to recover the populations depleted by the ecological instability of the Mar Menor due to pollution.
The Ministry of Agriculture will create a criterion for the distribution of European aid under the Common Agricultural Policy that takes into account the Mar Menor. Those who carry out good practices to avoid nitrate pollution and soil erosion, among others, will be able to benefit from this aid. Aid is also envisaged for the fishing and tourism sectors.
The Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Ministry of Agriculture will promote state regulations to tackle nitrate pollution or regulate the use of fertilisers, among others.
Knowledge and monitoring.
Predicting episodes of significant growth of phytoplankton in the lagoon, assessing the effects of the Ministry’s measures and designing a protocol for action in emergency situations in the Mar Menor are included in this section dedicated to science. A chapter that promotes the work of the IEO, which will create a monitoring system for the lagoon.
The Ministry will review in successive years whether it is necessary to change the order of priorities in the actions, for which it undertakes to reprogramme its measures.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, meetings will be held with the economic and social sectors of the Mar Menor and forums will be organised to encourage the public participation of Murcian society.