The Ministry for Ecological Transition, immersed in the review of the hydrological plans of the different inter-community demarcations, is planning a further reduction in the contributions of the Tagus-Segura water transfer to the receiving basins of the Spanish Levant. This decision lacks any technical justification and stems from the proposal to increase the minimum flows in the axis of the Tagus river, which means a reduction in the flows that can be transferred.
Thus, there is a forecast reduction of 105 hm3 in inflows to the provinces of Alicante, Murcia and Almeria, which would mean 78 hm3 less for irrigation than the current average and 27 hm3 less for supply.
It is paradoxical that in a country like Spain (with an average of more than 20,000 hm3 of water in reservoirs), the Levante region has to continue to struggle to have the necessary resources to continue generating wealth, employment and progress, and for what is a meagre volume compared to the overall figure. This is clear evidence that something is being done badly in the hydrological planning of our country.
Likewise, this reduction in available volumes would mean the loss of 27,314 hectares of irrigable land; the disappearance of more than 15,000 jobs, and reductions in the value of assets estimated at 5,692 million euros. On the other hand, these consequences would be compounded by the elimination of CO2 sinks in crops linked to existing irrigated land. Another of the direct consequences of this reduction in water from the aqueduct translates into an increase in the price of drinking water paid by the consumer, as there is greater dependence on desalinated water, the cost and environmental impact of which is greater (from 2003 until now, the tariff has tripled, due to the incorporation of desalinated water).
On the other hand, the Ministry itself has planned numerous measures to improve the purification systems of the water flows discharged into the river, as well as to modernise irrigation systems in the Tagus basin. These issues show that it is not the lack of flow in the river that is the cause of its failure to reach a good ecological status, and lead us to consider that there is an exclusively ideological intentionality on the part of the Spanish Government.
There is currently no alternative to the reduction in the volume of water available. On the one hand, the exclusive use of desalinated water, as an ordinary resource, can generate problems at an agronomic level and its production involves a disproportionate environmental cost (its energy dependence is 4 times greater than water from the aqueduct), and on the other hand it has prices that are subject to very high volatility, due to the real costs of energy. The price of desalinated water currently represents costs of over €1.40/m3 for the farmer, even more than the water destined for households.
In this scenario, the Spanish Government has put the agricultural sector, with the highest productivity rates in the country, between the ropes and is destabilising the future of the whole of society in the Levant, leaving aside the criteria of solidarity, sustainability (in all its aspects) and the structuring of the territory.
Rally 11 January
In order to address the situation urgently, the irrigators have called a protest in Madrid on Wednesday 11 January. The rally will take place in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, Plaza San Juan de la Cruz s/n and is scheduled to start at 10.30am.
The Almeria Water Board
The Mesa del Agua is made up of the Federación de Regantes de Almería (FERAL), Aguas de Almanzora SA, Junta Central de Usuarios de Aguas del Valle del Almanzora, Comunidad de Usuarios de la Comarca de Níjar (CUCN), Comunidad General de Usuarios de Aguas Depuradas (CGUAL), Junta Central de Usuarios del Poniente Almeriense, Junta Central de Usuarios de Adra, Asociación de Regantes de Andalucía (AREDA), Regantes de Almería (REGA), the agricultural organisations ASAJA, COAG and UPA, ASEMPAL, Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Técnicos Agrícolas de Almería and Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Agrónomos de Almería.