The Federation of Irrigators of Almeria FERAL celebrates today, 22 March, World Water Day with an event in Vícar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the installation of drip irrigation and with a recognition of the farmers and the daily effort that is made throughout the province. All this in a current situation where drought and rising production costs are posing a serious threat to irrigators.
All this in a current situation where drought and rising production costs are posing a serious threat to irrigators. This year, the Federation of Irrigators of Almeria has chosen as its commemorative slogan “Water is life, take care of it” to highlight the importance of water globally and, in particular, in the economy of the province. First, using technology to look for deep wells and applying submersible motor pump systems to obtain irrigation water, all this with the sanding in the fifties of the last century and, subsequently, erecting greenhouses just a decade later and complementing both advances, thus extending the creation of the “primor crops” so characteristic of our province and finally, the arrival of drip irrigation just over fifty years ago. “And a few days ago, the Spanish Government approved a decree law setting the price of desalinated water at 0.45 euros per cubic metre for irrigation, a proposal that “is acceptable for our agricultural model” as in some areas of the province, specifically in the Levante and Almanzora, the price paid a few weeks ago was more than two euros per cubic metre”, recalled the president of FERAL, José Antonio Fernández.
He also stressed that the efforts made by the Irrigation Federation and the Almeria Water Board before the Spanish Government in particular, and before the other public administrations competent in this area, in defence of a fair price “have finally been met”. These are not just two problems that the irrigators of Almeria are now facing. We cannot fail to remember the water needs of the province in terms of desalinated water and as we have always done from FERAL, we defend the arrival of water, for example, from the Rules dam. Once the needs of the province of Granada have been met, the surplus from the Rules dam should reach the Subsystem IV of Sierra Nevada, which includes the Poniente Almeriense region.
We also believe it is very necessary to complete the so-called “Water Highway” in the province of Almeria, which would interconnect all the districts and would serve to improve efficiency and management by solving any supply problems that may arise at any point in the province. The need for desalinated water in the province of Almeria is estimated to require the necessary improvements and infrastructures to achieve a production of 180 cubic hectometres. Reaching 50 in the Almanzora region, a desalination plant that produces 6 cubic hectometres for the irrigators of Adra, reaching 50 production in the Carboneras desalination plant for that area and the region of Nijar, and reaching 70 in Poniente, increasing from 30 to 40 in the desalination plant of Dalías and building another 20 cubic hectometre plant that can be increased to 30 cubic hectometres.
Carrying out the planned improvements to desalination plants
Fernández also stressed that “we must also work on the installation of renewable energies associated with the desalination plants, as this would reduce the price of electricity produced in the generation cycle” because, continued José Antonio Fernández, the situation for irrigation “is very difficult because we depend on electricity, the price of which has shot up, in addition to the increases in production costs which have also become quite expensive”.
Supporting information WHAT IS FERAL?
FERAL’s acronym is backed by more than 30,000 irrigators who, in turn, represent an agricultural surface area of more than 70,000 hectares. In addition, FERAL works continuously to publicise the profound effort that the irrigators of Almeria, one of the driest areas of Europe, have been making for decades to obtain the highest profitability from every drop of water and to manage such a scarce resource in the most efficient and sustainable way.